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April 8, 2013

Nicolas Colsaerts


MODERATOR:テつテつ Good afternoon, everyone, it's a pleasure to welcome everyone to the 77th Masters Tournament.テつ Thank you also to Nicolas Colsaerts, who joins us here this afternoon.テつ Nicolas had an outstanding year last year winning the Volvo Match Play Championship and finishing tied for 7th at the British Open.テつ We would like to welcome him to his first Masters Tournament.
Before taking some questions, let me say congratulations on being here.テつ Could you tell us what it feels like competing in your first Masters.
NICOLAS COLSAERTS:テつ Well, it's very special.テつ You know, it's one of the tournaments, if not the tournament, you look on TV when you're young and you just can't wait to walk these fairways and experience it for yourself.テつ It's the tournament for me.テつ So I can't wait to see what I'm going to do in it.

Q.テつ Is there anything that's taken you by surprise since you've been here, anything that you didn't expect?
NICOLAS COLSAERTS:テつ Yeah, actually, coming to the golf course this morning, how many people was trying to get in.テつ It's very different when you come like yesterday and today, the difference is huge.テつ But course‑wise, it's so much more subtle than I thought.テつ You know, you think that after watching it for so many years, you have an idea of what it's going to be like, but everything is accentuated by a thousand times.テつ Obviously the first time you walk around Amen Corner is quite special.
So, yeah, everything you look around, the first time you walk through the clubhouse and you get to see this piece of land in front of you, just how green it is, how clean it is everywhere, underneath the trees, I don't think there's any place like this.

Q.テつ We all remember the way you putted at Ryder Cup, have you been able to get the ball rolling the same way on these greens, and how important is your length off the tee going to be on this course?
NICOLAS COLSAERTS:テつ Well, it's funny, because since Ryder Cup, everybody thinks I average 27 putts a round.テつ (Laughter) I don't; I just want to make it clear.
These greens are very different than anywhere else.テつ You hit it on the wrong side of the hole and you're praying to have a 10‑footer back.テつ Local knowledge on these greens is a huge thing, as well.テつ You know, like I said, hitting it on the right side of them is critical.テつ So then, your second shots, take a bigger part of your game, and your tee ball, as well, and certain pin positions you're going to have on certain greens.テつ Local knowledge is a big factor of course.
And what was the other thing, sorry.

Q.テつ About your length off the tee.
NICOLAS COLSAERTS:テつ Again, it's a big advantage if you keep it on the short stuff, if you can pick up your lines and make sure that it stays there.テつ It's almost like every shot on this golf course is a little bit like a risk and reward thing.テつ If you are trying to hit it close; it's probably the biggest test of patience that any golf course you can face.
Like I said, when you come here for the first time, you have to accept the fact that you are going to hit it in certain spots that you didn't really want to, and you're going to try to limit the damage.

Q.テつ It's early in the week for me, if you can share some of what you've experienced or done off the golf course here, and then secondly, did you pick anyone's brain in terms of what to expect for this week?
NICOLAS COLSAERTS:テつ Well, it's funny, since my season last year, I have gotten so many doors to open in front of me.テつ I got to meet obviously all The Ryder Cup squad.テつ It's always good players to go and talk to, regardless of anything, life on Tour or living over here in America now or certain courses that we play.
I spoke a little bit to Olazテδ。bal yesterday.テつ We had lunch together and we spoke a little bit about the place.テつ Not so much about the course, but just everything that this place is all about.テつ And you can speak about it for hours.
And last week, I was fortunate enough to sit at the table for an hour with Jack Nicklaus.テつ When you get a chance to sit even ten minutes with somebody like Jack, and the discussion actually was about the place.
But it's funny how when I spoke to Jack about the place, I felt like I had the place, you know, pretty good screened up for somebody that's never played here.テつ So if you add some of the useful information he's given me, you know, it's actually given me quite a confidence boost and see that I had the right eyes on certain parts of the golf course.
But I feel pretty lucky to have the chance to talk to someone like Jack Nicklaus for an hour, considering, obviously, how his schedule is.

Q.テつ Your chat with Jack Nicklaus, anything that particularly surprised you that he told you, and was yesterday your first real look at Augusta?テつ Had you played here before?
NICOLAS COLSAERTS:テつ No, I was here a month ago.テつ I came one afternoon and one morning.テつ I couldn't resist to go straight on the back nine, of course.
But no, we spoke and we pretty much spoke about every hole.テつ He said, you know, a few pin positions and a few shots that you might need to hit and the ones you don't want to hit.テつ Usually when you play courses, you don't really think about the shots you don't want to hit; not as much as here.テつ Here it takes such a bigger part of your tactical approach to the course.テつ Yeah, we spoke about an hour and it was actually the perfect timing, because in one hour, we spoke about one thing.テつ So this is the most you can talk about this place, and we went fast, believe me.

Q.テつ How did that come about, that conversation with Jack, and given what you've learned, much is made of the fact that nobody has won on their debut since 1979; how do you rate your chances this week?
NICOLAS COLSAERTS:テつ There's always a possibility, just as much as there's a possibility of winning the par 3 and the tournament, but who really believes it.
This place is very different than the others.テつ Like I said, there's going to be so many times during my week where you know, you're going to have to be so focused on certain shots to hit, so you have to be very calm, very patient, and take your pars most of the time.テつ Everybody knows how you can go low on this course.テつ You know, the par 5s are obviously reachable.テつ There's a couple of holes where on par 4s where you can hit it close, but some of the par3s are difficult, and you get your ball off line off the tee, everything gets very, very complicated.
And what was the other thing, I'm sorry.

Q.テつ How did the meeting with Jack come about?
NICOLAS COLSAERTS:テつ Yeah, that was actually very special, because we were in the clubhouse and I'm chatting away with two members and Jack, Jr. comes in, that caddied for Jack in '86, and we were talking about the '86 Masters, of course, and one of the members we were with asked Jack, Jr. what would be your advice for your first Masters.
And he stood still for maybe ten seconds, and he came out with a very clever quote of:テつ "I would just talk to Dad."テつテつテつ (Laughter).
So he looked at me, asked me if he wants me to call him and I'm like (looking excited) yeah, if that's a possibility, that would be awesome.テつ Called him up and he had a meeting at 3 o'clock and he said, yeah, I can be here at two o'clock.テつ Jack came in and we sat at the table for an hour.
It was one o'clock in the afternoon, so having a chance to meet Jack Nicklaus in an hour, it was just, yeah, I felt pretty lucky.

Q.テつ That was here a month ago in?
NICOLAS COLSAERTS:テつ No, this was three days ago in West Palm.

Q.テつ There's so much talk about Tiger this week, and every week just now, for you younger guys who were not out here competing and seen him at his prime, is it easier for you to not worry about him, or is there a sense‑‑
NICOLAS COLSAERTS:テつ What do you mean I wasn't here?テつ I remember '97.

Q.テつ You weren't playing when he was dominating and winning.
NICOLAS COLSAERTS:テつ Then again, he's one of the players that knows the course like the back of his hand.テつ He knows what shots to hit here and there.テつ But there's so many young players now ruling world golf, that Tiger is always a factor.テつ You know, media makes it quite a big thing, but there's so many other players that can play this course and can play these tournaments.
He's always going to be a favorite, or top favorite, in any tournament he plays, of course, but there's nothing we can do.テつ It's always good to have the possibility to have the challenge to play against these world‑class players.

Q.テつ Is it easier for younger guys such as yourself because you didn't experience competing with him from '97 and 2000?
NICOLAS COLSAERTS:テつ Okay.テつ Well, I don't know, it's difficult for me to say.テつ I had a great time playing with him last time (shrugging shoulders) but it's a way different thing.テつ You play with Tiger out here at Augusta, you play with one of the guys that has been the most successful in this place.テつ It's difficult to rate.テつ I don't know if I give you the answer that you wanted.

Q.テつ Can you talk about holes 15 and 16, your expectations coming in, and what you saw when you first saw them and maybe the strategy of playing them in the tournament?
NICOLAS COLSAERTS:テつ 16 was exactly like I thought.テつ I've always wanted to hit the shot to the left pin, and the first time I came here, the pin was there and I hit it to a couple of foot, which was great.
But 15 has always been a key hole in any Masters, I think.テつ You see with second shots, you see the lay‑ups, you see with people hitting over the green.テつ The pin on the left is probably one of the harder shots on the golf course to get right.テつ There's a bit of room on the right side of the green, but it's quite an intimidating tee shot.テつ The wind would usually blow into your face.テつ You're hitting down, water in the front, it's never easy to judge, and you don't want to hit it over the back.
So the green is pretty flat in a way.テつ It's not one of the very, very‑‑ I mean, it's right in front of you like there's no big mound in it but it slopes to your left.テつ Then again it's a great opportunity to have a 3 or a 4 and try to make up some ground, but there's always a possibility.

Q.テつ Is there any concern this week that because it's your first time here, you are excited about being on the grounds and seeing everything, experiencing everything that maybe that's some of the focus you'll need when it comes time to play the Tournament?
NICOLAS COLSAERTS:テつ Well, it's funny, because when you come here and there's no one around, it's very difficult to picture the shots.テつ But once everybody settles in and sits around the green, everything shapes up a certain way that it's quite appealing.テつ It's quite, in a way, easy to picture your shots into the greens.テつ Of course, you're going to have to get it right and all these slopes can play tricks.
But the other thing is, all of these shades on the greens, as well. テつThe first time I came around 10, I couldn't believe how much shades of the trees there was on the greens.テつ So all of a sudden, your perception of depth is very tricky.テつ So you know, but like I said, with all these people around and everything, it's quite an appealing gallery to play golf in front of.

Q.テつ One of the other guys playing this week is 14 years old; what were you doing at 14 and how might you have reacted to play Augusta at that age?
NICOLAS COLSAERTS:テつ I don't think I would have handled it.テつ You know, 14, we're all busy already playing a lot of good golf, but to play Augusta at 14, I think everybody is almost in shock.テつ I hope for him he's going to enjoy this week as much as I am.テつ You know, I'm almost feel like I should be considered the same way because this place needs to be treated more as a rookie thing.
But yeah, I think everybody's been written about it and it's quite an achievement to get to play Augusta and the Masters at 14 years old.

Q.テつ The Belgian chap who got the invitation to Augusta who sadly didn't tee up, do you think about him, and what do you think he would have made of this place?
NICOLAS COLSAERTS:テつ Well, yeah, I do think about the other two Belgians that have played here.テつ I'm only the third guy.テつ It's pretty special for a small country like us that doesn't have a lot of golfers to have somebody represent a country and playing in this very exclusive tournament.
Yeah, I'm sure that not only him but all of the players that come from that generation would have‑‑ it would have maybe changed a little bit of that era for Belgian golf to have somebody playing on the world stage at that time.テつ It's been 40 years now since somebody from Belgium has walked these fairways, so I'm proud to do it.

Q.テつ You seem to acquire a lot of nicknames; any in particular you like?テつ And are there any holes out here where you'll dial things back?
NICOLAS COLSAERTS:テつ Yeah, the nicknames, there's two that float around.テつ I don't particularly like one of them because it's already been given to a Belgian actor.
But yeah, there's certain holes like 7, for example, is a hole I don't want to go too far down because that's where it's very narrow, same as the first.テつ You don't want to hit it very far there.テつ You just want to hit it in that bracket there in the middle around that bunker.テつ But then there's other holes where you can open it up, like 2, 8, especially with this wind today, you can try to send it over the bunker, even though it's a pretty long hit.テつ Then there's 13 where when you can try to go a little farther than the others, in case you hit driver.
15 is not as much like that because these greens come into play pretty quickly and you just want to make sure you have a second shot on to the green.テつ Yeah, there's a couple of holes, but there's certain holes you want to make sure you're on the fairway.テつ Actually, the tightest holes are the ones you really need to be on the fairway.

Q.テつ Going back to the youngster, the 14‑year‑old, you got your European Tour card while you were still in your teens.テつ Can you empathize with a youngster in his teens really taking on some of the bigger tournaments?
NICOLAS COLSAERTS:テつ It seems like a very long time ago, and it's almost like there was no chance for me to be successful that young because I had no idea what I really got myself into.
But nowadays, I think the players that come out so young are much more prepared than I was, anyway.テつ I come from a small nation, and I think anybody that is in his teens in America is going to be much more ready to do it than somebody coming from a small country like I was.
You need examples, and I'm sure the Chinese Federation or his family makes sure he gets trained and gets to speak with the right people and gets his golfing education the most modern way possible.

Q.テつ What do you think of your chances this week?
NICOLAS COLSAERTS:テつ Well, I don't know if it's any different any say a like my chances than somebody that has won here that says, yeah, I like my chances because they know the course.
You know, certain players come here and look at this place and feel like they have the game that suits it, and I definitely think that I do.テつ Now, you know, experience is always going to play a big role.テつ Like you said, this crowd is very different than any other crowd we play in front of, and this golf course is certainly very different than any other we play.テつ So, any tournament you win, you're going to have to hole some putts.テつ It might be a little more difficult to do out here because the greens are very different, but yeah, is that what you want to hear, I like my chances?テつ (Smiling).
THE MODERATOR:テつ Well, Nicolas, we wish you the very best this week.

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