It has been nearly one of the longest COVID related tournament defence waits in men’s professional golf.
There’s a large photograph of Belgium’s Nicolas Colsaerts that’s proudly been on display since early July 2019 as you enter the famed Le National course clubhouse on the outskirts of Versailles.
The photograph has remained in place as both the 2020 and 2021 edition of the oldest ‘Open’ championship title on the European continent had not been staged since Colsaerts won by a shot in mid-2019.
Only the 2019 Hero Indian Open it would seem is longer on the DP World Tour in terms of not being played due to Covid, and that was in March that year when Scotland’s Stephen Gallacher, with son Jack on the bag, won the co-sanctioned DP World and Asian Tour title.
Now Colsaerts, thanks to Gulf News the affable Dubai resident has spoken of his delight in finally returning to France to proudly defend his title.
“It is always nice to return to familiar golf clubs, venues and surroundings where you have played well before, especially if you have won on your last visit.
“I won this event in 2019, the last time the French Open was played at this week’s same venue at Le Golf National in Paris, it has had a two year sabbatical due to COVID-19.
“I must be the longest defending champion in the history of modern golf!
“I took the first prize of €266,660 with a 12 under par score for 72 holes, with rounds of 67, 66, 67 and 72.
“Not only have I won and done well here, they have also acknowledged my victory with my huge face all over the city, it is great to be a ‘Poster Boy’ again and get some attention – it has been a while.
“I hope I will take some confidence with the buzz around me, I was also excited to do some enhanced media stuff with the members of the press, both English and French.
“The French Open has a lot of history with this week being the 104th edition of this, the oldest continent of Europe’s national Open and has been part of the DP World Tour since its inception in 1972.
“My 2019 victory was a strange week, as I was struggling with my game, and it enabled me to retain my card. Things can change very quickly in this game, hopefully for me in a positive way.
“The credit for my win, in my opinion, was that I attended The Ryder Cup in 2018 and realised there were birdies out there and saw the golf course layout with a different perspective.
“I have so many friends around Paris and I am looking forward to seeing them this week as well as some Belgian golf fans coming over the border, it is not miles away.
“The prize money this week is €3 million and it’s a strong field including the following top players: Patrick Reed, Thomas Pieters, last week’s winner in Italy Robert MacIntyre, fellow Dubai resident Adrian Meronk, and the iron man on Tour Ryan Fox.
“It is an important week for me and all the players in this part of the season.
“I am fortunate to have my wife, Rachel, with me in Paris all this week.
“It is Pro-Am Day and my final look at the golf course and some range work to be ready for Thursday when the tournament starts.
“Wish me luck!”
– Nicolas Colsaerts, 39 years-old is a Dubai Golden VISA Awardee. He is a three time tournament winner on the DP World, a member of Team Europe in The 2012 Ryder Team in Medinah and is an Ambassador for Aviv Clinics, Dubai.