An Interview With: NICOLAS COLSAERTS
KELLY ELBIN: The only rookie on the 2012 European Ryder Cup Team, Nicolas Colsaerts, joins us at the 39th Ryder Cup at Medinah Country Club. In addition, Nicolas becomes this week the first golfer from Belgium to earn a spot on The European Team.
Welcome. What does it mean to you to be representing your country in The Ryder Cup?
NICOLAS COLSAERTS: It's really special. You know, as much as I was trying to picture how much it was going to mean to me, it's far more intense already of anything I could think of.
I've been dreaming of playing in this for probably 20 years, and when you realize you're going to be part of it, it's like I said, it's far more bigger than everything I could imagine.
Q. As a Belgian, do you find it easier to identify with the concept of playing for Europe as a whole?
NICOLAS COLSAERTS: Yeah, there's different things that makes me a bit like a hybrid. We speak a different couple languages in our country. We've got different types of people back home, you know, Flemish side, French speaking side. I've traveled the world since I was 15, so I was always, in a way, mixed up with a lot of different nationalities, because I traveled on my own and I had to find people to talk with.
It's pretty easy for me to get along with a lot of different personalities, different nationalities, and different sense of humors. So I think I fit in very easily in an environment where you have different kinds of people, yeah.
Q. You mentioned you found it far more intense already than you could have thought. Given that it's only Wednesday and you've only had one practice round, can you give us an example of what you mean by that? Can you just expand on that a little, please?
NICOLAS COLSAERTS: Well, since the first hour, when you put your suit on, you get into the plane, even though there wasn't a lot of us players on the plane, you realize how big of a deal it is with how many people are traveling with us, how many people are taking care of us in the team room. Players, caddies, everybody bonds so quickly together; just listening to all of the other players, as well. As you all know, we have a lot of very experienced players in the team, so when you get to hear discussions between Sergio, Luke, Westwood, Poulter, Olazábal, you know, it's certainly discussions that you don't really get a chance to be involved in as a regular human being.
In that way, I feel the intensity, you know, building up very quickly. And you realize how much it really means to those guys and how much they are very hungry after it.
Q. How big is golf in Belgium and how much interest do you expect there to be in this Ryder Cup? And also, how much do you think interest might grow as a result of your participation?
NICOLAS COLSAERTS: Well, golf is pretty small back home. It's a pretty small community. You know, for starters, it's almost like everybody knows each other in Belgium, so you can imagine how much it's a tight you know, very small thing for golf.
And then since the announcement of my captain's pick, it has been very well received. We got covered in a lot of newspapers, some of the TV channels back home bought the rights for television.
So the reaction of not only the golfing community, but the sporting community back home has been exceeding all our expectations.
So it's been pretty the last couple of weeks, it's been pretty busy for us. But it's only going to get busier now.
Q. How did you get interested in golf, and growing up in a country that doesn't have a great tradition, who were your idols and how much did you follow The Ryder Cup when you were a young player?
NICOLAS COLSAERTS: Well, I started playing golf only because I come from a very from a family that's always been involved in sports, as far back as my great grandfather represented Belgium in the Olympics; my father played field hockey at the highest level in Belgium for about 25 years. So it was obvious that I was always going to do something in sports.
Ryder Cup wise, I remember the first Ryder Cup I watched, I was nine years old. I was watching Kiawah, and even though I was nine, you know, I felt that it was a pretty big thing. And only growing up after, I realized that I wanted to be part of it.
And idol wise, there was only one guy that I really liked when I was young. It was Fred Couples. So funny enough, he is an assistant captain this week.
KELLY ELBIN: What was it about Fred that you liked.
NICOLAS COLSAERTS: I just liked Freddie just always seemed to be a cool cat, and the way he walks and the way he played; it was just I always loved the laziness about him.
Funny enough, I think I walk kind of the same way. But yeah, Fred Couples was the only guy I really looked up to when I was young, yeah.
Q. Can you tell something more about the period that didn't go so well? And going to this Ryder Cup, how big this achievement is for you.
NICOLAS COLSAERTS: Well, this is quite an achievement. When you look back and you see where I was like three years ago, I'm just the perfect example that if you want something really bad and you put your work into it, if you've got the heart and the passion, anything is achievable.
It's funny, because I thought about it, I don't know if it was last night or this morning; it's almost like I feel like I've come back from the dead, which is a bit of a weapon. We all go through different phases in our lives, especially when you're an athlete. You don't really have a lot of examples that everything goes according to plan. I'm certainly not one of them, but I'm kind of proud of my story.
Q. Davis Love was saying yesterday that he really wanted a Ryder Cup that was going to be fun, and by fun, he meant a lot of birdie opportunities out on the course, and he as the host captain has a lot to say about the setup of the course, very little rough out there and he wants players to really go for it. You being the longest hitter on the planet, I think right now, just talk about your game and you got a chance to play yesterday. Talk about the course and how you feel it sets up for you.
NICOLAS COLSAERTS: Well, it's obvious that Davis has certainly done what he wanted. There's hardly any rough. As we found out yesterday, there's a lot of holes where the Americans played from forward tees, so it sort of made sense to us that it was going to be a pretty spectacular event.
You know, most of the par 5s, everybody is going to go up in two. Concerning me, it feels like it's pretty open off the tee, even though there's a few bunkers you could avoid. But it's certainly an advantage to come to the green with as short an iron as possible.
I don't think I should be the only one looked at using my length as an advantage. We have got a couple other dudes that can hit it a long way, like you've got Rory; you've got Westwood; Sergio is a fantastic driver of the ball. So I don't think I should be seen as the only guy in our team that can send it far. I'm not going to go about everybody's C.V. in our team, but you all know what this European Team has great about it.
Q. I was curious how much you're going to rely on your performance at the Volvo Match Play earlier this year and how much that might help you this week?
NICOLAS COLSAERTS: It's difficult. Everybody keeps talking about my match play resumé, but you know, this feels completely different. You know, playing for yourself, it's a total different format. So I almost feel like not like I'm starting out on a blank page, but this is all new for me.
Obviously having worked well in match play gives me a bit of confidence boost, of course. But I just like to listen to the others, really. I've been thinking about this for quite a while now, and my only the only thing I think about is how am I going to get used in this team, how I can serve it well, and how they are going to use me to get the most out of my game to help the team.
Q. You mentioned coming back from the dead; if this is a high point in your career, is there a low point that you can specify?
NICOLAS COLSAERTS: How about just watching tournament golf on TV and thinking you shouldn't be on the other side of the screen. It's pretty difficult when you're a player and you get to see events that you know you're going to be a part in. It was just nonstop. Just looking at stuff that other people were doing that I've beaten regularly before, it's pretty sad. You know, when you're a player and you know you've got this in you, and you get to see it from the outside in, just as much as Ryder Cup, you're playing on The European Tour or playing majors, it's pretty difficult when you're 25 and you know you still have a lot of years in front of you and you just don't really produce in anything that's going to get you there, it's difficult to accept.
But like I said, everybody has different paths and everyone has different careers. You're going through this growing as a man sort of thing and you realize you want to be what you always dreamed of, so you've got to put your work into it, you've got to put your heart into it, and after, that you become a man sort of thing.
Q. You talked about The Ryder Cup was always part of your dreams; now you're here. Has anything surprised you or shocked you at what you've seen?
NICOLAS COLSAERTS: Yeah, the size of it. The number of people involved in it, just taking care of us only.
Just the reaction of the people; I was down in Spain five days last week, and every person you go by, you really have the sense that they are backing you up. You know you're playing for the flag and you know you're playing for the team. You sort of get another label and you realize how much it means to everyone. So in that regard, I'm not saying I'm surprised, but I never expected to be that big in I never really thought it meant that much to every 15, 20 handicapper back home.
KELLY ELBIN: Nicolas Colsaerts, welcome to The Ryder Cup.
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