Ryder Cup: Colsaerts' Big Belgian Bang makes world take notice

Wildcard dazzles Woods but he just couldn't be Superman again


Famous Belgians: King Charlemagne, Tintin, Rubens and Magritte, Hercule Poirot, Eddie Merckx, punk rockers Plastic Bertrand, and George Lemaitre, who proposed the Big Bang Theory. Add Nicolas Colsaerts's name to the roll of honour.

The 29-year-old 6ft 2in tall Muscles from Brussels has a Big Bang Theory of his own: whack it with a driver into the middle of next week.

Colsaerts is about to play his part in either a history-making comeback or defeat but if it is the latter, he will be one of the few Europeans who can hold his head high. He has fought his heart out for the European cause.

In two rounds of fourball matches he made 11 birdies and one eagle while of his partners, Lee Westwood managed none and and Paul Lawrie contributed just one.

Yesterday morning, Colsaerts tried to breath life into Sergio Garcia, another European who had been sluggish at Medinah. He almost did it, too. But he just couldn't be Superman two days in a row. He and Garcia lost 2&1 to Zach Johnson and Jason Dufner. "My partner was trying really hard, and we got back to all square, and then I started spraying it all over the place," Garcia said.

Jose Maria Olazabal has been so impressed with Colsaerts that he sent him out in the lead match with Lawrie in the afternoon fourballs. If anyone could ignite a European fightback, perhaps the Belgian could land the first blow. But it wasn't to be. Dustin Johnson and Matt Kuchar beat them one up.

Colsaerts has already made history as the first Belgian to play in the Ryder Cup. His stock could well be about to go global. He's not even big in Belgium. But now America certainly knows who he is.

Especially after he beat Tiger Woods and Steve Stricker on his own in Friday's fourballs with eight birdies and an eagle. Westwood's birdie-free contribution to that match was so minimal he would have made better use of his time if he'd nipped off to buy his pal an ice cream. "When somebody like Tiger says, 'Great playing, man', you understand that you've done something good," Colsaerts said. "Nicolas probably had one of the greatest putting rounds I've ever seen," Woods said.

Colsaerts comes from fine sporting stock. His great grandfather represented his country at basketball and water polo at the 1920 Olympic Games and his father played top-level field hockey. "I was always going to play sport. I have been dreaming for 20 years about playing in the Ryder Cup," he said, remembering how watching the matches at Kiawah Island in 1999 fired his imagination.

The Dude wanted to be Fred Couples. "Freddie just always seems to be a cool cat, the way he walks and the way he plays," Colsaerts said. "I loved the laziness about him. Funnily enough, I think I walk kind of the same way." But Colsaerts very nearly didn't come to the ball. His journey really is a Cinderella story.

Four years ago, he was languishing outside the world's top 1,000. Now he's world No 35 and riding golf's "up" escalator. He gained a reputation as a party animal and paid the price for his lifestyle. He lost his playing rights and took a teaching job at an academy in Australia. It was here that he reached the low point. "I was watching tournament golf on TV and thinking I shouldn't be on the other side of the screen," he said. "I'm 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 almost like I feel I've come back from the dead."

If Europe are to retain the Ryder Cup today, it will require more than just a miracle from Colsaerts.

Jeremy Clarkson
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