Nicolas Colsaerts will carry the hopes of a nation into the final day of the Belgian Knockout after the former Ryder Cup star enthralled the huge home crowds with a superb display of poise and panache to progress through three matches of nine-hole stroke play and book his place in the quarter-finals.
It was a disappointing start to the day for the Belgian fans as they watched two of their brightest young stars fall at the first hurdle in the weekend head-to-head knockout matches, both Thomas Detry and Thomas Pieters losing out in the round of 64.
Colsaerts soon gave them something to cheer about though, as the 35 year old from nearby Brussels first overcame Scot Richie Ramsay, then battled back from a losing position to beat Italy’s Lorenzo Gagli, before an incredible eagle two at the par four seventh of the yellow course helped him to a convincing victory over Joachim B Hansen of Denmark in the last 16.
The local favourite’s eight under par total through the 27 holes of his stroke-play match play rounds was the best of the day, while his 11 under aggregate score for the week is also the leading total for Belgium’s first European Tour event in 18 years.
The seven others to qualify for the final day’s action were French trio Benjamin Hebert, Mike Lorenzo-Vera and Victor Perez, as well as Spanish duo Jorge Campillo and Adrian Oteagui, David Drysdale of Scotland and Englishman James Heath.
“It was great. I played a little bit better than the second game, and then I kind of like sealed the deal with an eagle on 16 (seven of Yellow course). I hit an unbelievable three-wood to only just a couple of feet, which was exactly what I wanted so I could cruise on the last couple holes.
“It’s pretty cool actually – I was curious to see how I was going to react to play in front of home crowds, but it certainly gives you a bit of a lift. I was kind of like, I’m not here to disappoint almost.
“It’s not an easy format, which is actually good practice for me. You kind of have to keep the foot down wherever you are. It’s all never too far from anybody unless you’re really far out, but if you’re one or two shots with a couple of holes, it’s not done. It’s actually quite an exciting format.”
“It’s a long day, three rounds of nine holes. We started early this morning, but I’m very, very happy with the way I played this afternoon. I didn’t really make too many mistakes, made three birdies and I’m very happy with it.
“It’s a format I really enjoy, when you play one against one. Obviously playing with Matt, my friend, today, was a very, very good match. I think it was very exciting until the end, and it’s just exciting.”
“I was getting a bit tired I think, just had a slow start this time. So Matt managed to give me some shots and I just tried to play around par. He wasn’t playing good, so I just thought about level would make it pretty easy, just try my best to hang around and then go through that game and let’s go tomorrow.
“Of course it’s cool. It’s a different type of match play, really, so you have to keep your score okay. You can’t go stupid on one hole or whatever. It feels like you’re leading a tournament and you have one nine-hole stretch to go. I don’t know what’s going to be my result at the end of the week, but I’m learning a lot from of all these situations I have to play, so it’s cool.”
“I started bad. I hit bad tee shot on ten and on 13, I lost my ball there. So it was tough. I missed a three-footer as well on 14. I still had a chance, even though I was three-over after five, but had three birdies in a row, and a great par on 18, so I’m proud of the way I finished.
“I’m looking forward it. The worst I’m going to finish is fifth now, so it’s a good thing. Adrian is playing great. He’s a great match-play player, so it will be a good match. I’ve been playing good all year, so hopefully I can come and play like the last five holes here tomorrow and win, and if not, next week hopefully.”
Please see below a link to the full Belgian Knockout Brackets with today’s results and tomorrow’s draw: