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By Kevin Currie, Golf Editor - Archive - Email
Colsaerts climbs from obscurity to Ryder Cup
Nicolas Colsaerts leads the European Tour in driving distance, averaging 316.7 yards.
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - It was four short years ago that Nicolas Colsaerts bottomed out.

He was ranked outside the top 1000 players in the world rankings and his game was in shambles. From 2007-09, Colsaerts numbers were plain bad.

In that span, he played in 14 European Tour events and made the cut in just six of them, all six came in the '07 season. His best finish was a share of 21st at the 2007 Johnnie Walker Championship at Gleneagles.

In those six made cuts, he earned 57,637 euros, which left him 201st on the Order on Merit. In 2009, he won two Challenge Tour events and won 52,000 euros for those victories, and that really kick started his climb in the world rankings.

Buoyed by those wins, he regained his tour card for the 2010 campaign. Once back on the main tour, Colsaerts got off to a slow start as he missed the cut in three of his first five events.

His breakthrough came at the China Open, where he tied for eighth. He followed that with two top-6 finishes in his next three events.

The Belgian's season slowed from there. He closed that year with a pair of ties for eighth place mixed in with three missed cuts.

Turn the page to 2011 and the China Open was once again the watershed event for Colsaerts. He fired four rounds in the 60s and earned his first European Tour win by four strokes.

He went on to earn four more top-10 finishes that season. Colsaerts also played his first U.S. Open, but missed the cut by four strokes.

The 29-year-old has rung up nine more top-10s this season, including his second tour title. And it was that victory -- at the Volvo World Match Play Championship -- that helped propel Colsaerts into consideration for the European Ryder Cup team.

Team captain Jose Maria Olazabal selected Colsaerts and Ian Poulter with his two captain's picks on Monday.

When asked of his climb from obscurity to the Ryder Cup, Colsaerts said, "I'm just living proof that if you want something badly, it's only a matter of time if you put the work in and you still have the passion. It's a bit of a fairy story, I know, but I'm just living proof that anybody can do it."

Colsaerts' formula for success this year is pretty obvious. He leads the European Tour in driving distance, averaging 316.7 yards, and is 12th in greens in regulation, hitting 75.6 percent of greens.

Add those two together, and you'll see how Colsaerts is ranked ninth on the tour in stroke average, 70.55. His length will surely come in handy at Medinah, which will play around 7,600 yards for the Ryder Cup.

Colsaerts will be the only rookie on the European team, but should not be taken lightly. He has a big game and his confidence is as high as anyone's right now.

KO NOT TEMPTED TO TURN PRO

At just 15 years old, Lydia Ko already has won two professional events. Last year, she became the youngest player -- male or female -- to win a professional tournament, when she won the Women's NSW Open.

Ko went on to claim three major amateurs titles in Australia and New Zealand. Put those wins together, and it's easy to see why she is the highest ranked female amateur golfer in the world.

Two weeks ago, Ko finished second in the stroke play portion at the U.S. Women's Amateur, then won all six of her matches to win the title.

In her six matches, Ko played the 18th hole just twice and one of those two times was the first time through in the 36-hole final

Last week, she accepted an invitation to the Canadian Women's Open and made the most of it.

She carded three rounds in the 60s en route to winning by three strokes over Inbee Park, who entered the event ranked 11th in the world, and by five shots over Na Yeon Choi, Jiyai Shin and Chella Choi. Those three started the week ranked fourth, 15th and 45th in the world.

Despite her success, Ko has visions of playing college golf. There is no need for her to rush to turn pro, as the money will always be there.

Will she take the Tiger Woods/Patrick Cantlay route of a few years of college, then turn pro? Or the Michelle Wie route of turn pro, but go to college anyway? Or will she stick it out for four years of college before turning pro?

Only she knows when the time will be right for her, but I'm sure if she petitioned for early membership to the LPGA, tour officials would have a hard time denying that request since she already has won two professional events.

MINI-TIDBITS

* Keegan Bradley blew the theory of my column last week when he missed the cut at Bethpage, a course he had played more than any other golfer in the field thanks to his college days at St. John's. Well, he has another home game of sorts this week playing at the TPC Boston. He grew up about three hours away in Woodstock, Vt.

* Sergio Garcia has used different caddies the last two weeks after parting ways with his old full-time looper. In those two events, Garcia has a win and a tie for third. He'll eventually hire another full-time caddie, but doing all the yardage work and club selection himself has helped the Spaniard narrow his focus and play well.


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