For golf fans, Friday morning can’t come soon enough. The 44th edition of the prestigious Ryder Cup, the biennial meeting between the United States and Europe, begins in Rome. What makes the Qatari Championship so popular? At Sporza Daily, Nicolas Colsaerts and Karl Vaniokerke are full of enthusiasm.
We obviously know Karl Vanyukirk as a cycling and football fan, but he says he’s also become “addicted to golf”.
“By playing golf myself, but also by being at the Ryder Cup in 2012,” says the Sporza Daily broadcaster and commentator. “If you encounter it once right away, you’ll be sold out.”
“I’ve been in this business for 30 years, and this event is in my top 3, probably No. 1. In 2012, there was the Miracle of Medina in Chicago,” Habah explains.
Then the European team was able to overcome its 10-6 deficit against the United States on the final day and in the lion’s den. Nicholas Colsaerts also played an important role at that time.
“Colsaerts opened the first day and let me follow him inside the ropes. Then he and his partner Lee Westwood played against the United States with Tiger Woods, among others. Colsaerts was like no other.”
“Am I still thinking about that print? Man, not a day goes by that I don’t think about it,” Nicholas Colsaerts immediately sets the tone. “I still get asked about it a lot and get recognized for it.”
“It is extremely gratifying that you have planted a flag in the memory of golf fans. I will forever be recognized as one of the players of that edition.”
11 years after his participation, the love for the Ryder Cup is still strong. “Golf is an individual sport, but in this tournament you play as a team. You touch a different part of your DNA and I love that kind of competition.”
It is extremely gratifying that you have planted a flag in the memory of golf fans. I will forever be recognized as one of the players from the 2012 edition.
Screaming and screaming: ‘The atmosphere is surreal’
Not only the sporting aspect, but also the whole picture surrounding it, excites Karl Vanniewokerke a lot. Thanks to the thirteenth man.
“The Ryder Cup is very special because of the battle between two continents with 12 players and certainly because of the atmosphere.”
“In a normal tournament, you’re told to be quiet, but here you end up in the cup atmosphere. Especially on the first tee in the morning.”
“Then the two camps are screaming and yelling at each other. There’s a football atmosphere around the golf course. That makes it surreal.”
Nicholas Colsaerts: “In your home country, as a European, you feel the support of the fans and their positive energy. In the States, there is a lot of verbal aggression and it is not an easy stage to perform. Especially with all this pressure, because it is a very difficult present.”
It seems that you as a spectator are completely immersed in the game. “It was only after a half-hour in Chicago that I realized I had been walking next to Michael Jordan for a long time,” Vannewkirk says.
“And it turns out that George H.W. Bush was the guy who was fiddling with a bag of potato chips. So all the great people want to experience that up close.”
Nicholas Colsaerts enjoys a Ryder Cup win in 2012.
Colsaerts as Deputy Leader: “Course management is very important”
Nicholas Colsaerts and Thomas Peters appeared in the European selection in the previous two editions (2012 and 2016).
A second invitation has not yet been possible, but Colsaerts is one of the vice-captains of the European team this week.
“He acts as a communication channel from the captain to the players. He mediates, consults and looks at how to play,” explains golf expert Vaniokerke.
“It also looks at the management of the course. Most European golfers know this course in Rome by heart, and this home advantage is very important.”
“After a decade of involvement, it was a great honor to be selected as one of the vice captains,” Colsarts said.
“During the last period we tried to build a relationship with the 12 European players. How do they play? How do they work optimally? How does their staff work? During the week we allow them to perform as well as possible.”
No prize money? Every golfer wants to be here. The stature is enormous and the history goes back almost 100 years. The profits are so large in other circles that there is little fanfare among participants.
Sporting honor is at stake in Roma, but not financial reward. Although the lucrative sport of golf has become a bit sick due to the large amount of money, you gain absolutely nothing from winning the Ryder Cup.
Vaniokerke: “However, every golfer wants to be here. The prestige is huge and the history goes back almost 100 years. The advantages are so great on other courses that there is not much fanfare among the participants.”
Colsaerts: “Europe has selected around 160 players over the last century. This means you belong to a very select club.”
“You also maintain the noble form of playing for your pride and the pride of your continent. You are playing for the flag of the United States or the flag of Europe.”
“You can also do it with 11 teammates, which is a system you don’t get to test very often. There’s nothing better than beating Americans at something they think they’re good at (laughs).”
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