07 Feb 2023

Nicolas Colsaerts – Back from the brink after major health scare

To say the last 12 months have been a challenge for Nicolas Colsaerts would be something of an understatement.

At the end of 2021 he noticed his ankles were swollen so went to visit his doctor, presuming it would be something minor. He was admitted to Mediclinic Parkview hospital in Dubai and it was found he had fluid and multiple blood clots in his lungs caused by a rare kidney disease called primary membranous nephropathy. Finding this out was, he said, “the scariest day of my life.”

But after receiving immunosuppressant treatment and being helped enormously by AVIV Clinic’s hyperbaric oxygen therapy as well as the support of his wife Rachel, he’s now back fighting fit and received a huge boost when, in November, Ryder Cup Captain Luke Donald named the Belgian as one of his Vice Captains for this year’s Matches in Rome.

A three-time winner on the DP World Tour, the Dubai-resident is most famous for producing one of the most memorable Ryder Cup debuts in history when he teamed up with Lee Westwood to fell Tiger Woods and Steve Stricker in the Friday fourballs at Medinah in 2012. Worldwide Golf caught up with the 40 year old at his new ‘home’ club, The Els Club Dubai, to find out about his journey back from the brink and what it means to him to be part of Donald’s Ryder Cup project.

RECOVERY FROM ILLNESS…

The number one factor has been family. Rachel, my wife, has been incredible through this whole journey and I wouldn’t be standing where I am today if she wasn’t there.
We also got extremely fortunate to meet the people from AVIV who have been an incredible support from day one. I did the whole hyperbaric chamber treatment so I was here in Dubai for three months doing the treatment for two hours a day. I can see still now, having finished the treatment a couple of months ago, the difference it’s made to my ability to focus, concentration, thinking process…listening to my wife a lot more! I highly encourage everyone to go through the treatment. It’s not something you should do only when you have an issue, it really improves people’s lives on a daily basis.

WHAT THE RYDER CUP MEANS TO HIM…

The Ryder Cup means everything in my life. It was the thing I always looked at when I was really young that I wanted to be part of. I grew up playing team sports so I could really identify with the Ryder Cup very early on in my life. Playing in the 2012 event is definitely the greatest memory of my career.

MEMORIES OF THAT FAMOUS DEBUT IN MEDINAH…

You never really know how you’re going to react to your first Ryder Cup game but I was clearly in the zone – when you make eight birdies and an eagle in your opening match with Lee Westwood, against Tiger Woods and Steve Stricker it’s really something I look at, especially now some time has passed, and think – ‘wow, what an incredible thing to do.’ Still to this day I get goose bumps when I think about it.

HIS RELATIONSHIP WITH LUKE DONALD…

The thing with Luke and I is that we’ve always liked each other and always enjoyed each other’s company. I respect Luke very highly from a golf career perspective. He made it to World No.1 and played in many Ryder Cups, so I’m extremely proud to be one of his Vice Captains for The Matches coming up this year.

EXPLAINING THE ROLE OF A VICE CAPTAIN…

All decisions are made by the Captain but the Vice Captains are involved in those discussions and decisions – just whatever he needs advice on. So, you don’t have the pressure of being the Captain but you’re involved in all the decision making up until the first day of play. If you think of the locker room, we want everybody to be on the same wavelength. There will be some guys that I’ll be closer to, some that Thomas Bjørn will be closer to and Edoardo Monlinari will be closer to others. You want to be able to bring something to the table to help the whole thing work. I’m still yet to discover what I’ll be most useful at. But once you find that you keep your foot down and make sure you get the best out of the players and also the backroom staff.

WHAT SORT OF CAPTAIN DONALD WILL BE…

I’m actually amazed already. We have this WhatsApp group and I can already see the involvement he has, I can see how far down he’s looking – he’s keeping an eye on everyone, wherever they play. Even some guys that I’m not familiar with at all. It tells you that he’s taking this very seriously. We’re still 10 months away from this and I’m actually excited for what he’s shown so far.

PLANS FOR 2023…

I was granted a full medical exemption for 2023 due to my hiccup health wise last year. So, I’m really grateful that the DP World Tour understood that I went through something quite difficult. I’ll play a full schedule for the first time in a while, it’s been a year to 18 months since I did that! So, I’m actually really looking forward to playing this 2023 season. Also, with my Ryder Cup Vice Captaincy, being able to be at events, look at guys and be on some sort of mission again – to be part of something. I’ve missed that these last couple of years.

CURRENT FORM DESPITE LACK OF GOLF IN 2022….

I always surprise myself, seeing how good I am from tee to green considering the little golf I’ve played. It’s just in my DNA that I can improve from 150 yards in and on the greens so if I can improve slightly in that department, who knows? Maybe we’ll be write a few more lines on the CV!

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