Colsaerts holds nerve to win World Match Play
Nicolas Colsaerts shot into the Ryder Cup reckoning by beating Graeme McDowell on the final green to win the World Match Play Championship on Sunday.
The big-hitting Belgian, who was watched by European captain Jose Maria Olazabal, moved close to the automatic qualifying places for the Ryder Cup with the victory, which also earned him €700,000 ($900,000).
"It means everything," the 29-year-old said after his second European Tour victory.
Colsaerts was ahead on four occasions in increasingly windy conditions at Finca Cortesin but McDowell kept coming back.
The Northern Irishman twice closed the gap to one shot after the turn, the second time when Colsaerts three-putted on the 17th green.
But the Belgian, who has a 316-yard average off the tee, held on for a second nerve-wracking win of the day after earlier winning his semifinal against Paul Lawrie on the second extra hole.
"Two days ago I was in my room taking a nap thinking I was going to fly home. It means so much to be here, it's fantastic," Colsaerts said.
McDowell reached the final by beating Rafael Cabrera Bello on the final hole but remains without a title since his U.S. Open win in June 2010.
Colsaerts failed to win either group game, advancing only after a playoff with Charl Schwartzel, and looked a long shot to even make it to the final when he lost the first four holes against a resurgent Lawrie in their semifinal.
But the Scot found the bushes with his second shot at the eighth, and he lost two holes in a row to reach the turn only two ahead.
Colsaerts seized his chance with birdies on the 13th and 14th to draw level, before winning on the second extra hole.
"I could see Paul was not very happy - he wanted the match to finish a little earlier," he said. "I was probably feeling a lot better than he did and I thought I was going to capitalize on that."
McDowell also made a strong start to his semifinal, winning three of the first holes against Cabrera Bello, but the Spaniard had a chance to level on the 17th -- only to three-putt and lose the hole.
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