Sunday, May 20, 2012


The Belgian outblasted and ultimately outlasted Graeme McDowell here at the Volvo World Matchplay today, hauling himself into an automatic place on José María Olazábal’s team.
Looking on, the captain must have been impressed with Nicolas Colsaerts’ collection of the £555,000 first prize, regardless of his late wobble. He survived the guile of McDowell and the gales of the Finca Cortesin foothills – as well as his nerves – to win on the last and finally secure a cheque that matches his length of shot: huge.
The 29 year-old has always possessed the swing, the physique and the talent to crack the elite. And by entering the world’s top 50 for the first time he is now assured entry into next month’s US Open, the Open and the campaign’s other main events.
At the very least Colsaerts seems destined to be a notable runner in the qualifying race. Not bad for a player who waited a decade for his first top-flight win (in China last year) and had been written off by many as an under-achiever.
“It was really tough out there but I managed to hang on,” said Colsaerts, who also beat McDowell on his way to last year’s semi-final. “It has always been a dream of mind to play in the Ryder Cup and I hope this win helps me realise it.”  
Certainly the tall Belgian would be a worthy addition, especially in the four-balls. Colsaerts leads the driving stats in Europe and his average of 316 yards is a yard longer than Bubba Watson, the Masters winner who heads the US PGA Tour’s charts.
While Colsaerts is No 1 in this category, McDowell is way down in 155th, conceding an average of 35 yards to Colsaerts, although at times his deficit was twice that distance. However in devilishly windy conditions, the Ulsterman contributed to his own downfall.
McDowell’s worst moment was a shank on the 13th at the end of a three-bogey run. When Colsaerts eventually tapped in on the 18th — having missed a four-footer for victory on the previous hole – he was four over par, which highlighted the arduous nature of the task as well as his opponent’s struggles.
Despite his disappointment, this could be rated as McDowell’s best result since his annus mirablis in 2010, which brought the US Open and, of course, Ryder Cup legend status with his decisive point at Celtic Manor.
McDowell was six under par in his morning semi-final victory over Rafael Cabrera-Bello and that alone should mean he heads to Wentworth this week with confidence restored.
As will Paul Lawrie, once he calms down following his semi-final loss to Colsaerts on the second extra hole. After eight holes the Scot – who harbours such hopes of making the flight to Chicago in four months’ time — was four up. But Colsaerts battled back to force the play-off and then had to suffer a rather ridiculous shoot-out which meant the pair had to go back to the par-three 17th and play behind the second semi-final.
Lawrie’s 18-footer to win on the par-three almost went in, but then he was forced to wait for 10 minutes on his third shot into the 18th as McDowell closed out his win. Colsaerts duly birdied leaving Lawrie to march off without a word.
+The picture at the top of the article of Nicolas Colsaerts and the trophy is by courtesy of Getty Images(c).

Paul Lawrie earned 154,825 Euros for being a beaten semi-finalist.
To view the allocation of the tournament's prize fund




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