Forbes India 15th Anniversary Special

'Representing your continent gives you a big boost'

Belgium's Nicolas Colsaerts on playing in marquee events like the Ryder Cup and how golf players deal with distractions

Kunal Purandare
Published: Oct 18, 2018 12:51:43 PM IST
Updated: Oct 18, 2018 01:42:26 PM IST

'Representing your continent gives you a big boost'Nicolas Colsaerts, Belgian professional golfer; Image: Thomas Lovelock

Nicolas Colsaerts knows a thing or two about winning big tournaments. Affectionately called the ‘Belgian Bomber’, the 35-year-old represented Europe when it won golf tournaments like the Ryder Cup (2012) and Royal Trophy (2012, 2013), and his home country in the World Cup (2011, 2013 and 2016). As Europe took a sizeable lead and eventually won the 2018 Ryder Cup, held in Paris late last month, Colsaerts spoke to Forbes India about the significance of playing in such big tournaments.
“We play an individual sport and when we get a chance to represent our country or continent, it’s a whole bigger dimension. Even while watching the game from the outside [at Ryder Cup 2018], I feel the stuff that I did when I played the game. It’s a much bigger atmosphere and the fans get more involved than they do in normal tournaments. As a player it’s a big honour to represent your continent and country. To do it in front of so many people and see their support is amazing,” says the professional golfer, who also won the Junior Ryder Cup in 1997 and 1999.
Colsaerts started playing the game when he was six and knew instantly that he wanted to be a professional golfer. Playing the game for all these years has helped him deal with the noise that comes along. The atmosphere at the Ryder Cup, for instance, where fans go hysterical as players walk along the fairway. It doesn’t help when they suddenly go quiet as the player is about to hit the ball.
“You can basically hear a pin drop [when you are about to hit a shot]. It is better to have little noise constantly than to have nothing at all because then you start to hear your heartbeats. That’s when you start to think about things that maybe you shouldn’t be thinking,” explains Colsaerts, a Rolex testimony. He says the players feed off the atmosphere of the crowd. “You are driven by adrenaline and a much bigger picture of representing the whole of Europe. It gives you a big boost. The noise is something that we are used to,” he says.
However, given the competitive nature of the tournament and how lonely it can be at the centre, the players, he says, constantly talk to their teammates on the fairway. “We talk all the time; there is this team connection that you have. You are always with your teammates, talking about what’s going on, good or bad. The older players who have played in such tournaments tell you to stick to your partner because you form a bond throughout the game,” says Colsaerts.
Having played in the biennial tournament in both the US and Europe, he feels the crowd is a lot more hostile in the former. “Here it is friendly intimidation and booing,” he says, adding that he was fortunate to win on American soil in 2012. He says the atmosphere between the two teams is a lot friendlier and that players discover different dimensions to their personalities when they play in such tournaments.
(The writer travelled to Paris at the invitation of Rolex)