Colsaerts - muscles and finesse
The Muscles from Brussels. The Belgian Bomber. An animal. All of these are nicknames Ryder Cup star Nicolas Colsaerts has earned in his career, and for good reason.
The Belgian firmly established himself as the world’s longest hitter in 2012 when he topped the European Tour driving distance charts with a staggering average of 318 yards – some three yards clear of Bubba Watson, who topped the standings on the PGA Tour.
This week it was Colsaerts' drive at Durban Country Club’s third hole on day one of the Volvo Golf Champions that had onlookers like Ernie Els gaping in disbelief.
The 419-yard rocket left him just 84 yards to the pin on the tight par-five, and it prompted Els to light-heartedly declare after his round that "they should put a plaque down in his honour. I was coming from a different zip code and I've got to compete against these animals!"
But while Colsaerts embraces his role as an entertainer of sorts, he never loses sight of the more important task at hand – posting a good score.
“It depends how wide the fairway is,” the 30 year-old joked. “No but it’s really fun to stand on holes like three, and, even though it was down wind, carry it a long way and leave yourself a short-iron in. Particularly on this course – you don’t really have a lot of chances to take the driver.
"It’s easy to get carried away with it and try give the people what they want to see, but you still have to do your job first, and that’s more important.”
Despite making a mockery of some of Durban Country Club’s holes on Thursday, Colsaerts, who has two European Tour victories to his credit, could only manage a 73, and it drew some criticism about his ability to play on courses where a driver off the tee is seldom the order of the day.
A 67 on day 2 went a long way to putting that right, and the world’s 36th ranked player insists that there is a lot more to his game than just his length off the tee.
“It’s funny, people have this idea about me - you don’t really get to this level of golf without a bit of course management,” he laughed.
“Obviously I like a course where I can take a bigger advantage of my length. But I grew up playing old style courses back home, and we don’t really have the chance to play them anymore. So it’s good to come back and play these types of courses and bring out the finesse in your game a little.
“I was very happy with how I played yesterday. You know I didn’t really play that well on Thursday I thought. It was my first time playing with Ernie, and conditions were pretty brutal.
"The last couple of holes I figured it was one of those rounds where you just have to do damage control and hope for a second start in the week, and that’s what I was able to do with my score in the second round,” Colsaerts added.
On Friday, Louis Oosthuizen seized a one-stroke lead over Scott Jamieson and Thongchai Jaidee with a scintillating second round of 64 to reach 12 under, and the trio have pulled away from the pack.
But Colsaerts, who will start his third round on four under, still believes anything can happen and that victory remains possible with 36 holes to play.
“I feel much better than I did after round one. You can make a lot of birdies out there, and even the way I played yesterday I felt I left a few chances out there. So, like for everyone else, there’s low numbers to be had, and I still feel like I’m in with a chance,” he said.