Colsaerts wins Volvo Match Play crown
Europe's biggest-hitter now has a big title to his name - Belgian Nicolas Colsaerts is the new Volvo World Match Play champion.
And by beating Northern Ireland's Graeme McDowell on the last green in the final, the 29-year-old from Brussels, whose 316-yard average off the tee is longer than that of America's number one bomber Bubba Watson, is also into both the world's top 50 and a Ryder Cup qualifying position.
His semi-final with Paul Lawrie began with him losing the first four holes, but he then launched a fightback and after an hour-long thunderstorm delay won at the 20th. That set up a clash with McDowell, who beat Spaniard Rafael Cabrera-Bello on the last, and a year after beating him 2&1 in the quarter-finals he took the £559,865 cheque.
McDowell could have no complaints about the way he started the final, making an 18-footer on the first and nine-footer at the short second. However, he then fell behind at the fourth, sixth and eighth, only for Colsaerts to lose the next each time - the ninth when he duffed his pitch after McDowell had done the same.
That took them into the back nine level and with the wind gusting over 30mph McDowell found the bushes at the 11th and bogeyed to go one down for a fourth time. He could have levelled once more on the next, but missed from three feet and then hit what looked dangerously like a shank down the 13th to bogey again and fall two down for the first time.
McDowell, though, was the one to drive the green at the downwind 14th and an eight-foot birdie putt narrowed the deficit. Both bogeyed the 15th, but McDowell dropped another on the next and in the process threw down a club in disgust, but Colsaerts three-putted the 17th. His length paid handsome dividends at the last, though, and that was that.
A delighted Colsaerts later explained the size of the challenge he had faced to pick up the win. "Mentally, match play is such a tough game - you're under pressure all the time," he told Sky Sports.
"When you play Graeme in such conditions you know it's going to be a tough game. Him being Irish, playing a lot of links golf, you know he's used to playing tough conditions. It was my job to hang tight."
Colsaerts' Ryder Cup prospects have taken a huge surge as a result of the victory but he refused to take it as a given that he will be part of the next Europe side.
"It's very big, it's always been a dream of mine as a kid to play the Ryder Cup," he said. "There's still a long way to go, still a dozen tournaments and a lot of candidates. I'm well-placed - a lot better after this - but there's a long way to go."