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No Rest for the 'Belgian Bomber'


After acquitting himself nicely in his third start at the U.S. Open, Belgium's Nicolas Colsaerts is back in action for this week's Travelers Championship. The $6.1 million PGA Tour event starts Thursday at TPC River Highlands in Cromwell, Conn.

The long-hitting 30-year-old, who splits his time between the PGA and European tours, hovered near the top of the leaderboard last week at a very tough East Course at Merion near Philadelphia. In the 113th U.S. Open, Colsaerts carded rounds of 69, 72, 74 and 72 to finish in a tie for 10th at 7-over 287, six strokes behind champion Justin Rose.

Outside of a few blips in the third round, Colsaerts felt he held up pretty well during the Open's cauldron. "Mentally-wise, it's such a fight that you dig deep and one or two shots can be so important," he told reporters Wednesday in Connecticut. "It's always easy at the end of the week to look back and think I could have been a bit closer.

"I made a double-bogey and a triple-bogey on Saturday and that got me just a little bit too far to be really threatening over Sunday. But I thought I did really well to fight until the end and get a top-10 in a major tournament again, which is quite a good performance again."

Here's what else the two-time European Tour winner told reporters on the eve of the Travelers Championship, his first go-round in the tournament.

MARK STEVENS: Like to welcome Nicolas Colsaerts. Nicolas, making your first start here at the Travelers Championship. Talk about your thoughts coming into the week, have you played the course, maybe your thoughts on that, and we'll have a few questions?

NICOLAS COLSAERTS: Yeah, first time for me here. I had a look at the golf course, just played 18. It's in very good condition. The greens are really, really smooth. I think most of the guys are going to have a good time. It seems like you can do a bunch of birdies there. It depends how windy it's going to be, but quite happy to be here.

Q. If U.S. Open had been in San Francisco and some place like that, would you still be here or are you here because of the proximity to Philadelphia?

NICOLAS COLSAERTS: No, that wouldn't have changed my schedule. As you know, I'm playing both sides of the Atlantic this year, so I've got to get my certain number of tournaments up. Us Europeans are quite used to traveling, you know. Flying from one side of the country to the other to here is not really a big deal for us. So, no, I'm actually not surprised to see Justin coming. I know Webb did the same thing last year. I think when you commit to a tournament, you should respectfully do so.

Q. Like you said, this is your first time here. What goes into the decision making process? Is it simply how it fits your schedule? Did you hear word of mouth that this course is really nice and you wanted to come see it? How did it all work out for you to come here?

NICOLAS COLSAERTS: It fit my schedule. I played a couple of tournaments in Europe a couple of weeks ago. I was going to have a decent run here with the U.S., this one, and Congressional where we played U.S. Open two years ago. So these are courses - and I heard a lot about the tournament itself, that we're looked after pretty well, the place was nice, the course is nice, and that usually does it for me. So it didn't really take me long to add this week to my schedule.

Q. Nicolas, can you talk about your work with Dave Stockton? He was a past champion here way back in the day.

NICOLAS COLSAERTS: Well, I've been working with Dave for, I think, close to three years now or two and a half. The thing that stands out the most is Dave is helping me out with my schedule actually too. So he tells me what course is going to suit me, and he got to know me pretty good over the last couple of years so he had a little bit of input on how I should approach this year playing over here and he's given me little advice on certain things apart from the putting of course. It seems like last week I've gone back to some of the first stuff that we did together, and it seems to have worked very well.

It's funny how faster the greens go, the faster they are, the easier for me to really focus on what the ball is going to do on the greens. I'm quite happy because I've not really putted that well early in the season. I've struggled a bit and gotten back to the first couple of lessons I had with him two and a half years ago, and it seems to have done the trick last week.

Q. Who was the longest between you and Bubba and Dustin Johnson for the first two rounds that you played together at Merion?

NICOLAS COLSAERTS: It's funny. I thought that question was going to pop up a little earlier when we were playing together last week. I keep telling the same. I think we're all pretty much the same. When you start to hit the ball these distances, sometimes you catch it, sometimes you don't. You get a good balance, and you have the trajectory into the wind. You know, Dustin is a very right to left driver of the ball. Bubba is obviously the other way, and I play with a lot of different trajectories. So the three of us drive the ball very differently, but, like I said it's so close when you start to average 310, 320, we're all pretty much the same.

Q. Can you describe what your routine is like before you get to the golf course?

NICOLAS COLSAERTS: Before I get to the golf course?

Q. Yes.

NICOLAS COLSAERTS: It would depend what time of the day I'm playing. Obviously, if you play early, you don't really do much. You just wake up, come to the golf course, have your breakfast, go to the range probably 40, 45 minutes before. I tend to be ready a little too early, because it doesn't really take me much to be ready. Most of the times when we go out and play randomly or just play a practice round, we just tee it up, last week at the U.S. Open I must have hit maybe 30 balls on the range before Wednesday afternoon and I got there Sunday night. So I'm not really a driving range freak. So I tend to I'm not trying to say that I'm trying to stay away from the range, but I figured a long time ago that that's not where the golf tournament is played at. And if you need to suspend some time, you probably do, you'll get a lot more than just having a look at the course and make sure that you've got all your plans set up.

Q. You just said you played 18 this morning. How many times did you hit the driver? Do you think you're going to hit the driver a lot this week? Last week you had a really good finish at the U.S. Open. What is working well with your game right now?

NICOLAS COLSAERTS: The wind direction was different today than it was yesterday here already. Actually I hit the driver a fair amount of times. There are only 1 or 2 par 4s where you're going to hit irons and a couple of 3 woods, but most of them were drivers. Like I say, I can play with different trajectories with the driver so I can keep it pretty low and keep it on the track, which seemed to work on most of the holes that I've hit driver on today.

But then it's obviously a little wider than last week, so whoever played here last week is going to feel pretty confident with the driver on the holes here. There's not that much trouble except for the trees to the sides of the golf course are a bit different. It's a little more open on the front nine than the back nine is, even though I don't think it's that much narrower on the back, but it's just that tree lined effect makes you think it is a bit more narrow. But, I think, if one of these courses were guys like me that keep it in play or hit driver most of the time, they'll probably have those shorter irons that turn into a bit of an advantage.

Q. What was working well for you last week?

NICOLAS COLSAERTS: You get easily caught up into the size of the tournament and the importance it takes. Funny enough, like the more difficult the tournament is and the course is the more you're going to get the most out of your game. I thought when pars or birdies and my striking abilities, I thought that Merion would suit me pretty well, because most of the guys were going to struggle to hold balls on greens, even though it was soft early on.

The further we were going into the week, the tougher the course was getting, and that really played to my advantage knowing that I was going to be in control of my ball and give myself the off chance here and there. I mean, we all knew that the holes were going to be pretty difficult, so I always came on the last couple holes with momentum because I played well all week, which always helps on pretty fast greens and on difficult conditions. Keep the momentum going when you can make a putt or two for par that are most likely looking like bogeys.

Mentally wise, it's such a fight that you dig deep and one or two shots can be so important. It's always easy at the end of the week to look back and think I could have been a bit closer. I made a double bogey and a triple bogey on Saturday and that got me just a little bit too far to be really threatening over Sunday. But I thought I did really well to fight until the end and get a top 10 in a major tournament again which is quite a good performance again.

Q. Nicolas, everyone knows about your driving ability. You were just talking very much about your total game. Does it bother you at all that people focus on your driving and not your total game?

NICOLAS COLSAERTS: Well, it's always been - people are very interested of how far some guys hit it. I never really thought my game was just about driving the ball far. I grew up playing on all styles of golf course where you need to work your ball. You need to work it around the course and find shots that work on certain type courses because that's the way we grew up playing. So I know it's a big deal to hit it far, but I'm totally fine. I know within my peers I'm seen as a pretty good ball striker and that's good enough for me.

Q. Do you feel that the logistics of Merion worked? Do you think it should host another U.S. Open or was it just so complicated that it's not worth having another U.S. Open there?

NICOLAS COLSAERTS: Well, it certainly was different than any other tournament we would have played regardless if it's U.S. Open or whatever. I think the first thing you have to look at is the course and how it unfolded to be as good of a U.S. Open as it was. But, yeah, logistically wise, when you have to prepare a bit earlier to go from the west to the east, yeah. But you're playing the U.S. Open.

There are only about 100 I don't know how many competitors there are in there, but you have to feel yourself lucky to be in the position to play that tournament. Even if that takes a 15 minute shuttle ride to go to the course, it's no big deal, really. I'll still play in the U.S. Open. But I thought the course was fantastic as we all saw. Everybody in the media made it sound like it was going to be easy and records were going to be broken really. It turned out to be the opposite.

The transcript for the above interview is courtesy of ASAP Sports.