AUCHTERARDER, Scotland – The strain of trying to make the Ryder Cup team is getting to Nicolas Colsaerts. So much so that he can’t wait until the team is announced at noon Monday.
The Belgian has been touted as one of Jose Maria Olazabal’s two wild-card picks, with Ian Poulter. However, Colsaerts is not buying into that plot line.
“There are so many scenarios it’s exhausting,” Colsaerts said after a third-round 71 in the £1.4 million Johnnie Walker Championship at Gleneagles, the last counting event in the European Ryder Cup race. It puts him in 13th place at 6 under, six shots behind Scotland’s Paul Lawrie.
Colsaerts can make the team automatically if he wins or finishes second. He would knock Germany’s Martin Kaymer out of the European team as a result. That’s precisely what Colsaerts aims to do.
“We are just going to take on pins and try to can (hole) everything,” Colsaerts said. “We are going to have no choice. I’m just fighting like a dog.
“My strategy is to shoot the best round of my career, plain and simple.”
The 29-year-old has been on the European Tour since 2001 and has two victories, including this year’s Volvo World Match Play Championship. However, he never has experienced this much pressure in his life.
“You know that every shot is worth so much more,” Colsaerts said. “It might be stupid to think like that, but you know it is. I don’t think the relief is going to be over until the announcement.”
Colsaerts has set up some fly fishing on Monday morning to try to get his mind away from the Ryder Cup.
The Belgian isn’t relying on the popular notion that he’s a lock for a pick. Although Spain’s Rafael Cabrera-Bello can’t make the side automatically, he can still finish ahead of Colsaerts on the European points table. Cabrera-Bello is one shot better than Colsaerts here at Gleneagles. The Spaniard is T-7 at 7 under.
A victory for Cabrera-Bello would give Olazabal much to think about.
While Colsaerts is feeling the strain, Lawrie is feeling more relaxed this week than he has felt for more than a year. He already has booked his place in Olazabal’s team.
The Scot made his only appearance in the Ryder Cup in 1999 at Brookline, the year he won the Open Championship at Carnoustie. He began thinking about a return to the match last year when he won the Andalucía Open, his first victory in nine years. He also has experienced a little Ryder Cup pressure this year.
“It’s hard going, no question,” said Lawrie, winner of this year’s Qatar Masters. “You want to represent your tour. You want to play, and you want to be one of the boys on the team – especially maybe myself, because it’s been such a long time since I played. You’re kind of looking at maybe this time or one more as your last one.
“I can see where Nicolas is coming from. It’s constant. There’s no getting away from it.”
One man who’s got away from the pressure is Spain’s Miguel Angel Jimenez. After four appearances, including two years ago, the veteran would have been in line for a possible pick had he won here. He missed the cut but will still make the trip to Medinah (Ill.) Country Club, site of the Sept. 28-30 matches, after being named as one of Olazabal’s vice captains along with Thomas Bjorn, Darren Clarke and Paul McGinley.
As for Colsaerts, he faces an anxious wait to see if he’ll make history by becoming the first Belgian Ryder Cup player.