The Ryder Cup is the third most-watched sporting event in the world – and the 2018 competition is due to take place at France’s Golf National, not far from Paris, from 28-30 September. Belgian golfer Nicolas Colsaerts tells us a bit about the prestigious fixture – and also about France and its varied courses.
In the 2012 Ryder Cup in Medina, USA, Nicolas Colsaerts achieved the best moment of his career: he beat Tiger Woods, then the world number 2, in a memorable four-a-side (NDLA) game that also involved British player Lee Westwood and American Steve Stricker. It was an incredible success that contributed to the eventual victory of the European team. Today ranked 119th player in the world, the Brussels resident hopes to compete in the Ryder Cup again, a major golf fixture that alternates every two years between European and American venues. What about this autumn at the Golf National in Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines? We spoke to him…
France.fr: How do you rate French golf courses?
Nicolas Colsaerts: I only know the tournaments, including the Golf National, and those where I train in Provence. In general, these courses are excellent. What I like also in France is the mix of historic, old-fashioned courses such as Chantilly, Morfontaine and Chiberta with contemporary courses like the Bordes, Prince of Provence, Saint-Nom-la-Bretèche, Medoc and Grand Saint-Emilionnais, recently designed by Tom Doak. It’s as much about quantity as quality in France. And it would be remiss of me not to mention the country’s food and wine… these give it a great advantage in the face of competition from other countries.
France.fr: What place does France occupy in the golfing world?
NC: Today, thanks to the Open de France at the Golf National and the different French pros on the Tour, France is an important player in Europe. From a tourist’s point of view, the Basque Country (Pays Basque) is the only area to have developed a contemporary golf ‘cluster’ by gathering all its clubs close to each other. This is what the golfer-tourist is looking for. Cities like Marbella, Malaga, Valencia, Lisbon or Faro have also followed suit – but the vitality of the French Golf Federation supports the sport well, and that’s also why France deserves to host the Ryder Cup this year.
France.fr: Is the Golf National a good choice of host venue for the 2018 Ryder Cup?
NC: I’d say it’s an obvious one. I always had the feeling that the last five holes were a real ‘match-play’ test (NDLA pitches two players or two teams against each other; the best score on a hole wins the hole and the winner of the most holes wins the game). This finish is dramatic and anything can happen at any hole. If you add to that a stadium layout capable of accommodating the number of spectators it attracts, you have the perfect recipe for the Ryder Cup.
France.fr: What inspires you with the Ryder Cup in general? What does it represent to you?
NC: The Ryder Cup is the most important golfing event, and also the third most watched sporting event in the world. I was fortunate to be part of the winning team at Medinah in 2012 and the memories will be forever etched in my memory. As a golf enthusiast, even when I was young, I was looking forward to September every two years. Today, nothing’s changed. I love this competition!
France.fr: Is the Ryder Cup a goal for you in 2018? Do you envisage competing, and repeating the great experience of 2012?
NC: Of course, I’ll do everything to be part of it. Paris 2018 will be unforgettable because the standard will be so high. The Americans have never been so strong – but it’s all about being on form in September. World rankings will be less important at that point. The European team will need momentum and public support. These will be the keys to their success.
France.fr: What’s your best sporting memory in France?
NC: I have a weakness for tournaments played in Saint-Nom-la-Bretèche, Île-de-France. When I was junior, I had a passion for the Lancôme Trophy, which no longer exists today. I played as a pro in the last part in 2003 with Paul McGinley and Retief Goosen. But I also have an excellent memory of our victory against the UK and Ireland at the Seve Trophy in 2013.
France.fr: Aside from golf, which region or city do you particularly like in France?
NC: As a sportsman at heart, I’ve always loved the Basque Country. I like its people, sporting atmosphere, nature, coast and cuisine. I'm a big fan of their beef! I also take the opportunity to try other sports there such as rugby and surfing. But I also love Savoie for skiing, snow, chalets and raclette. More recently, I’ve also discovered corners of Provence that I adore.