British Open 2012: Nicolas Colsaerts Has No Plans of Falling out of Contention

Ben GibsonSenior Analyst IJuly 19, 2012

LYTHAM ST ANNES, ENGLAND - JULY 19:  Nicolas Colsaerts of Belgium walks to the 18th green during the first round of the 141st Open Championship at Royal Lytham & St Annes Golf Club on July 19, 2012 in Lytham St Annes, England.  (Photo by Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images)
Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images

Most Americans probably took a quick glimpse at the leaderboard on Thursday with one question on their lips.

Who is Nicolas Colsaerts?

The 29-year-old Belgian may not be a household name yet, but the quirky British Open may be the perfect place to begin his campaign for respect.

Colsaerts may be young, but he has been experiencing professional golf pressure for quite some time. Turning pro at age 18, the Belgian star had already won three events as an amateur and carried the expectations of an entire country on his shoulders.

The weight proved to be pretty heavy.

Colsaerts, before 2012, had made few waves on the golf scene. He briefly led in 2006 in the Irish Open before falling out of contention.

His inconsistent play cost him his European card, and the once-future phenom had to earn back his playing privileges on the Challenge Tour in Europe.

Rather than feeling sorry for himself and quitting, the young man rededicated himself and has come back as a truly tough player physically and mentally.

After finishing third on the Challenge Tour, Colsaerts has won two European Tour events, including the Volvo World Match Play Championship this past May.

Colsaerts went through a gauntlet to earn his biggest title to date, defeating three major champions along the way with Justin Rose and Brandt Snedeker to boot.

The win propelled the seemingly unknown player into the top 50 in the world rankings, and he continued to make waves in the U.S. Open.

Though it may be forgotten with the drama between Jim Furyk and Webb Simpson on Sunday, Colsaerts actually was tied for the lead on Saturday and was only three off the lead entering the final round.

With his length, Colsaerts can play back and still have realistic shots on the greens of Royal Lytham & St Anne's. Knocking the ball on 16 of 18 greens, including a dramatic eagle two on the second-hole par four, Colsaerts proved he has the game to compete.

Most importantly though, he has confidence.

While he may only have two majors worth of experience, the Open Championship has been the location for unexpected results.

If you don't believe me, ask Todd Hamilton, Ben Curtis or Louis Oosthuizen.

Colsaerts may have faded last month, but do not expect a similar result this time around. The Belgian has learned from 12 years of playing across the continent.

This may be his moment to grab the spotlight.