As the sun disappeared on Wednesday at Lake Karrinyup, Nicolas Colsaerts casually rolled putt after putt into one of the holes of the practice green, stopping occasionally to take a drag of a cigarette as music played in the background from his phone.
The scene befitting the nonchalant Belgian nicknamed ‘The Dude’, who perfectly embodies the greater variety of players playing their craft on the European Tour than its American counterpart. But his casual attitude shouldn’t be misinterpreted as carelessness for the event or his craft, as he tees it up in a country with a special place in his heart.
Colsaerts wife Rachel is Australian, as is his caddie Brian Nilsson, and the 36-year-old admits the connection, and birth of his half-Australian son, drives him to perform well in front of what will almost be a home crowd at the World Super 6 Perth.
“It does now more than the last couple of years,” Colsaerts told Golf Australia when asked if playing in Australia means something special. “We spent five weeks over Christmas and New Year’s here, and my boy is half one of you lot, so yeah without doubt its always going to be on the back of mind whenever I come and play here.”
And while Colsaerts attributes the importance of playing in Australia to his wife and son, his connection in fact goes well beyond family ties.
RIGHT: Colsaerts' experience as part of the winning Ryder Cup team in 2012 could help in the match play this week. PHOTO: Andrew Redington/Getty Images.
As a young professional, Colsaerts came to Australia to get some “fresh air” and “try something else” to develop as a player. His time including a stint in the pro shop of Brookwater Golf Club in Brisbane that has helped form a unique outlook on golf in this country, which he suggests his fellow European players embrace by playing the co-sanctioned events like the World Super 6 Perth and last week’s Vic Open where he was T8. But the man capable of conversing in five languages warned Australian golf administrators to make their own talent the primary focus, rather than the formation of a much discussed month long European Tour swing.
“We all know about Sandbelt and that sort of stuff but this has similar types of features, maybe a bit more undulated, very windy,” he said of Lake Karrinyup. “But I think most of the guys that come from Europe would only have to praise the golf course.
“You are always going to come across the guys who have had a busy end of the year and have played in the desert and want to prepare for what’s ahead for us. I think guys should come once in a while and have a sniff and then realise how much good golf there is here on offer.
“Some guys will tend not to do that and do what they have always done, which is a bit of a shame but then I mean you have your own issues with the Aussie guys not coming to play your national open as well. I think that should be your first thing to asses.”
Beyond the quality of the course and his connection to the country, the strokeplay/match play format of this week has Colsaerts excited.
‘The Belgian Bomber’ is a renowned match player, with two professional match play titles and a winning Ryder Cup appearance on his resume. And despite wishing there was a greater match play element this week, Colsaerts will be one of the players to watch if he survives the two cuts and makes it through to Sunday.
“I think the match play kicks in a little too late. It would be nice to have a bigger bracket, like two rounds, a cut and then match play,” he said. “If it’s manageable on the timeline and to be able to accommodate that many matches, I don’t think it would be a bad idea.
“I’ve always liked the head-to-head format, you’ve got one guy and you have a course to play and whoever manages the course and the opponent comes out on top. I mean we play way enough strokeplay during the year so it would be nice to play a bit more match play.”
Colsaerts’ compatriot, and fellow Belgian Knockout host, Thomas Pieters is currently the tournament favourite despite feeling less than 100 percent. But his more experienced countryman was quick to douse any suggestion he would struggle, and still has him as the man to beat at Karrinyup.
“Beware of the injured golfer,” Colsaerts said when told of Pieters ill health. “I think it doesn’t matter how shitty he feels, he is always going to be a tough guy to beat whatever the format. He is capable of doing really good things and I wouldn’t really pay too much attention to what he says.”