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May 22, 2012
VIRGINIA WATER, ENGLAND
MICHAEL GIBBONS: Many thanks for joining us.
NICOLAS COLSAERTS: No problem.
MICHAEL GIBBONS: I suppose, start us off with your reflections on last week. Not a bad week for you.
NICOLAS COLSAERTS: It's hard to describe. You know, that's a tournament I was watching on TV when I was a kid and I remember watching it on BBC, it's different, you see your name next to names that has rules this game, and legends of the game. It's hard to describe.
MICHAEL GIBBONS: Try and describe it for us.
NICOLAS COLSAERTS: It means everything. I turned pro 12 years ago. I've been through so many different phases throughout my career, and to play well in events like these, it's such an achievement, like so much work is being done for the last year and a half. You know, we sat down with my agent, coach, how to prepare the season the best we could, and it worked out that we played‑‑ every tournament we pretty much played the first part.
We thought that it would be good if we were going to be in contention most of the weeks, but I mean, being in contention on pretty much every occasion is something that we probably never dreamed of.
MICHAEL GIBBONS: Beyond your expectations?
NICOLAS COLSAERTS: Well, we knew that we prepared good, but you know, the level of all of these players now is so high; it's a pretty difficult task to be in contention every week.
So you know, doing it week‑in and week‑out on different continents and on different tours, with different opposition is quite a big ego boost for me.
MICHAEL GIBBONS: Do you feel like you belong now?
NICOLAS COLSAERTS: When you look at all of the rankings and everything, it's hard not to think, yeah, I'm part of that group now. I always knew that I could be really, really good at this thing, but when you start to do it on a regular basis, you start to understand that, yeah, you belong to a group of people that can beat every single man if you're on.
Q. Maybe the same question was asked when you won in China a year ago, but what could this do for golf in Belgium? If I'm right, the last golf course was opened in 2000. Golf is status quo more or less in your country.
NICOLAS COLSAERTS: Well, there's two discussions we can have here. There's either the development in Belgium course‑wise, or the elevation we have created in the last year and a half. I don't really go incognito in golf courses in golf clubs in Belgium anymore.
I was back at my former home club two weeks ago. I was giving away a prize at the golf club where I see all of these kids, and it's pretty moving to see how much I see all of these young guys looking up to me. I was in the same boots they were in 15, 20 years ago. So it's quite‑‑ you start to think that people look up to you, you see young kids‑‑ I'm a pretty sentimental guy, so I get easily touched by things like that.
Q. What's the name of the club?
NICOLAS COLSAERTS: It's called Rigenée. It's actually where‑‑ there was a female golfer back in the 90s called Florence Descampe, who played in the Solheim Cup, and I played in that club for probably about ten years, eight years.
Q. What's it called?
NICOLAS COLSAERTS: It's called Rigenée.
I've seen a video of them watching the final in front of the television. It's quite good to see that they feel like I'm still part of the family.
Q. What's the reception been like on the range and all the guys you've met so far since that win?
NICOLAS COLSAERTS: Every people I've walked past, usually when somebody wins, you just say "well done" and you just move on.
But people have‑‑ every single person that came in sort of stood and smiled and congratulated me in the most sincere ways. That's when you realise how well you handle yourself throughout the years and show sportsmanship and how much of a nice guy you can be, you get payback at times like this.
Q. Who were you looking up to? Was it Florence Descampe or you were saying that‑‑
NICOLAS COLSAERTS: No, no‑‑ well, she played Solheim Cup and everything. So in the 90s, she was the biggest golfing thing we had at the time. I never really looked up to her or anything like that.
No, I grew up looking at, you know, cool dudes like Couples. I'm sure that I grew up as a golfer a little bit in that sort of image, as you all know (chuckling).
Q. And when you say you spoke with your agent and your coach about your schedule, how does it differ from what you used to do about ten years ago? Did you play too many tournaments?
NICOLAS COLSAERTS: We didn't discuss schedule. We discussed preparation, how we were going to attack this new season. It's probably the best preparation we have done, ever. We went in a place called Anahita where I'm attached to now in Mauritius, which is just next door to Fancourt. So it was kind of easy to set up a training camp right before we went and played the first tournament in Mauritius, which is only a three‑hour flight from South Africa.
I did a lot of fitness work. My coach's son, actually‑‑ he's a CrossFit fanatic, which is a physical preparation, a certain kind of preparation. And so we did that for 12 days, and I started out of the gates in a fantastic way. So it has proven to be the best preparation we have ever done, simple.
Q. How tough did you find it a few years ago when you were not even on the Tour and not fulfilling what you knew was your potential?
NICOLAS COLSAERTS: Well, I didn't really have a lot of‑‑ a lot of things to maneuver with. I was just having no card, and it was obviously very frustrating not to be able to be on the front scene.
But I didn't feel like I have done the things right, but I couldn't really stand up and say, hey, I want to have a go at this because I had not really proven at that point‑‑ I didn't deserve a spot on the front stage then.
So after I got back on The Challenge Tour, it just all made sense to me that I was just going to make the most of it then. I was getting close to 30; I was 28 then, and you just realise that you don't want to go and let this chance go by.
Q. You never could have expected to drop as low as you did?
NICOLAS COLSAERTS: No, never really did. But I never lost faith in coming back and showing the world what I can do.
Q. To help you get back, have you put in much work on your mental time? Have you focussed on the mind?
NICOLAS COLSAERTS: We started seeing Bob Rotella, actually, early during the year. So, yeah, he's been a tremendous help. I know in the past‑‑ but that's, you know, in relation, what has just been asked; the frustration of not fulfilling your potential.
Q. What was the lowest point for you? Was there a point when you thought, I can't take this anymore?
NICOLAS COLSAERTS: Funny enough, like I was‑‑ I didn't really think at one stage, this is the lowest, lowest I've ever been. I was just keeping on diving. At one stage, I was offered the possibility to go to Australia, and I just jumped on the proposition straight up, because I knew that was the only way I could get back to loving the game and fulfilling what I could do.
But I never really got to a stage where‑‑ I mean, I knew I was doing pretty bad things, and it was just you add one bad thing to another.
Q. Snowball effect?
NICOLAS COLSAERTS: Snowball effect, yeah.
Q. Getting your card at 18, did that maybe come too soon in hindsight?
NICOLAS COLSAERTS: I don't think so, because I've always thought that the faster you get dropped in this environment, the easier you're going to have to deal with it.
But you know, some of us don't really have the tools then to deal with all that. Looking back, I was preparing nowhere near the way all of these McIlroys or those two new Frenchmen are. If you had somebody following me with a camera, you'd be like, he's got no idea what he's doing.
But in everything, like playing tournament golf and preparing the weeks and everything, it was just like I was just going on holiday and playing golf. I was 18; you can't really blame me.
You know, I was just out of the amateur ranks, and we come from a nation where we never really had anybody to go up to and ask what to do. Even though I signed with a pretty big management group, I've never been taken under the wing of any big player, which saves a lot of time for all of these dudes that made it quite early thought.
Q. Having said that, is that something you might give back to Belgian golfers to help them make it?
NICOLAS COLSAERTS: Yeah, any time. But we don't get asked to funny enough. I would have thought that the Belgian Federation, and my coach coach's some of the guys back home, so I do play nine holes with them occasionally. I'm playing an exhibition this summer in Belgium with two of the best amateurs back home, and we have all of the kids coming around for a day and everything. So I'm more than happy to give back, but in certain ways. It's not going to be how it needs to be done, which is the way we know about it now.
Q. I was just wondering if there is some way of associating your achievements with the achievements of another sportsman in Belgium that would allow the profile of golf to raise, for example, are there any other key sports men that you can think of in Belgium? I can think of one, a footballer at the moment, he's very popular and he may even be coming over here to play, someone like Eden Hazard, for example.
NICOLAS COLSAERTS: Yeah, I don't really know the guy's story, but he's been left on the sideline for the Belgian national team, and so he's a bit‑‑ he doesn't really understand as much as how good of a player he can be I guess.
I don't know, it's difficult to say. We have always had, you know, for a small country, guys that made quite a big difference in sports, and we have had a bunch of world No. 1s in table tennis, cycling we have always been pretty good. But I don't think my C.V. is anywhere near any of those guys, guys you want to look up to, Eddy Merckx and stuff like that, people we are talking are legends. I don't think I'm anywhere near that, but if I can make a difference or if I can be compared to any of these, be my guest, please.
Q. I know a little bit about your relationship with the Belgian Golf Federation, but they still have not asked to you do anything for them?
NICOLAS COLSAERTS: Not really no.
Q. Not expecting that in the future? I guess they will want to, when you play Ryder Cup they will want to be there with the players I suppose?
NICOLAS COLSAERTS: Yeah, I'm sure they will be knocking at the door then. Like I said, I'm more than welcome to help, but it's going to be under certain circumstances, which is not going to go with a bunch of people that never really, you know, give us anything. If we help kids, it's to help the kids and not help some old dude with a blazer with a federation sticker on it.
Q. While you were struggling, presuming you had not lost the ability to hit the ball miles; how bad did it get?
NICOLAS COLSAERTS: Well, I've said it a million times already, you go from playing 25 weeks a year to 15 because you only hold like a half‑stage at some Tour and you just don't practise as much, you don't play as much. Every time you show up to a tournament, you think like yeah, yeah, it's going to be fine but you just don't show up as prepared.
I've been playing high‑‑ to a pretty high standard for the last two years, so you have to look at it like that. It's kind of normal that you lift your game up all the time, because you know you are playing with better players and you are playing in better tournaments and all of a sudden, it's just like you just keep rising up.
But when you don't play, when you play some of the lowest‑‑ on some of the lower tours like Challenge and everything, you are not going to pick up as much experience as you do playing good in these events. It just makes sense to me.
Q. How bad did the game get, though?
NICOLAS COLSAERTS: It got pretty bad. It got to‑‑ I remember this Challenge Tour event back home where I actually shot an 80 on a course that now, I will probably shoot 65 with my eyes closed. So, yeah, it's very frustrating to not be able to‑‑ I was just like hitting bad shots all the time, period.
Q. I don't know anything about your background with the Federation, but were they cross with you for turning pro too early, did they want you hanging around amateur teams or what was the story?
NICOLAS COLSAERTS: No, the Belgian Federation doesn't help professionals. So once I got out of the amateur ranks, they were just done with me. So they never‑‑ there were never any advice people or anything. They just don't know anything about touring pros or professional golf. I mean, you have to understand that amateur golf and professional golf is just two different sports almost.
So they had no‑‑ they had no advice to give. As much as we didn't know what professional golf was about then, they had no idea, either. So we pretty much had to find out on our own for ten years almost now, which is a long ride, believe me.
When I stood at the prize giving the other day, I won my card 12 years ago, a five‑minute's drive from there, and you think, it took me 12 years to win, obviously something very big, but it took me 12 years. If I had a kid who was 12 years old, say, listen kid, you're going to have wait 15, 20 years to win something big, you go through a lot of different phases of life through those 15 years.
Q. Have you been measured up for The Ryder Cup yet?
NICOLAS COLSAERTS: I have, yeah. Nice atmosphere in there.
Q. Who were you in there with?
NICOLAS COLSAERTS: No one, just the staff. But the staff was already quite nice.
MICHAEL GIBBONS: Looking good?
NICOLAS COLSAERTS: I think look good in a suit.
Q. Does it feel a special moment?
NICOLAS COLSAERTS: When you feel that you are considered, yes, of course it is.
Q. When was that?
NICOLAS COLSAERTS: For the measurement?
NICOLAS COLSAERTS: Just earlier this lunchtime.
MICHAEL GIBBONS: Thanks for joining us.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports