Sign up for our daily newsletter

Latest news, reviews, analysis and opinion, plus unmissable deals for bunkered subscriptions, events, and our commercial partners.

Ten years on from the 2012 Ryder Cup at Medinah, Nicolas Colsaerts can still scarcely believe what took place in Illinois.

The big-hitting Belgian was the only rookie on the European team that year, having been picked as one of Jose Maria Olazabal’s two captain’s picks.

Recounting the events leading up to a modern sporting miracle, the details are still vividly clear in his mind.

“The last event where I could qualify was at Gleneagles,” he told

“I was trying to earn enough points to qualify and I finished around 20th or 30th. I showed good form and played pretty solid, but it wasn’t going to be enough to make the team on points.

“I was staying in Auchterarder that week with some friends and was having dinner on the Sunday night when Olazabal called me. He asked, ‘Where are you?’ 

“I told him I was just five minutes down the road, so he asked if I could go along and see him that night.”

Nicolas Colsaerts Witb 2

Half an hour later, he was in a room in the Gleneagles Hotel with Olazabal, his vice-captains and the Ryder Cup committee.

“I walked into the room and it was like a scene from the Godfather. It was really cool. Olazabal said, ‘I would like you to come to Medinah with us,’ so of course I said yes.

“From the moment I was told I was going to be in the team, to the tournament itself, you just ride on adrenaline. It was a short chapter in my life, but a really intense, meaningful one too.”

• Bradley: “I still think about Medinah every day

Two weeks later, Colsaerts was teeing it up in one of the most hostile environments in golf. The Ryder Cup has a reputation for being a difficult event for visiting golfers, and 2012 was no exception.

For a rookie, that might have been a tough place to make a debut but the Belgian wasn’t phased.

“When you make it in a locker room where other guys have played however many matches, I suppose you have a different status, but I never felt I was treated differently,” he says.

“I had been playing well for a year-and-a-half and I think most of the guys knew my qualities and that I was kind of firing on all cylinders.

“I think I showed from the start that I was going to really be a part of the adventure.”

That adventure started before the first tee shots on Friday morning, when two-time Masters champion Olazabal addressed his players the night before the opening session.

“On the Thursday night, we all sat in the team room and he looked at all of us, one by one, and told us he’d happily give back his two Green Jackets to play one more of these.

“That’s when Paul Lawrie just burst into tears. I was thinking, ‘C’mon, man, it doesn’t even start until tomorrow!’”

• Can you name all 24 players who played at Medinah?

Colsaerts sat out the opening session with Europe opting for an experienced group in the first round of foursomes. That session ended 2-2. It was in the afternoon when things took a sudden, dramatic turn.

As the Friday fourballs reached the halfway point, Colsaerts, playing alongside Lee Westwood, was the sole shining light for a European team that was being soundly beaten.

In the third match out on the course, the rookie was playing some of the golf of his life, up against Tiger Woods and Steve Stricker.

“I actually pushed to play with Lee,” Colsaerts explains. “I felt like I was going to feel pretty comfortable with him.

“We had played a bunch of times together that year and, selfishly, I also wanted to get out with someone who I had been around a fair bit. In case things go sour, in the fourball format, you can rely on your partner.

“As it turned out, it was the opposite.”

As Europe struggled to stem the tide of an inspired American team, Colsaerts posted eight birdies and an eagle to gain a valuable, crucial point on the final green.

“I was quite happy to play such an iconic pairing because I knew if they beat us, say, 4&3, no-one would have batted their eyes at it,” he adds.

“Throughout your career there’s always a few rounds that stand out. I lipped out for 59 in Portugal, I shot a course record of nine-under-par in Fancourt which will probably not be beaten and I made eight birdies and an eagle in a fourballs match at the Ryder Cup against Tiger Woods and Steve Stricker.

“When you look back, it’s actually pretty surreal. It’s certainly a round that stands out for me, it’s super satisfying.

“When you walk back into the locker room that night after doing that, everyone looks at you and kind of says, ‘Good on ya!’”

• Pro wants “solution” after EuroPro Tour folds

The rookie was sent back out on Saturday but he, along with the rest of his teammates, struggled to make a dent in an unbelievable USA side. It wasn’t until Ian Poulter famously found form late in the afternoon – during a session where US captain Davis Love inexplicably ‘rested’ the irrepressible duo of Phil Mickelson and Keegan Bradley – that Europe looked to have any hope of victory. And even then, it was a remote hope.

“Everyone talks about the rowdy locker room because of Poulter’s last holes with Rory,” recalls Colsaerts. “It did definitely swing the momentum.

“There was a different vibe and you could tell that people’s mindset had changed.

“People were walking a little bit taller with their chest out on the Saturday night. It’s funny how little things like that can make a difference.”

Colsaerts Fist Pump

Heading into Sunday, Europe trailed 10-6 and needed eight points from the 12 singles matches to retain the trophy. Many assumed it was beyond them. One ESPN reporter famously wrote that it was over. “Olazabal can click off the walkie-talkie and take the IFB out of his ear,” he said. “Time for the Europeans to fire up the private jets and head back home to Florida.”

He was wrong. Everybody was.

Europe burst out of the gates, winning the first five matches on that now-famous Sunday. It wasn’t until the sixth match, where Colsaerts faced off against Dustin Johnson, that the USA somewhat stemmed the tide.

The Belgian, by his own admission, didn’t have his best stuff. Fatigue caught up with him.

“It’s the first day you’re on your own and I was a little tired and I basically handed the match and the point to Dustin Johnson.

“I should have taken it to the last hole at least. Even if you’re not winning, the further you go in the match, it sends a message to the back of the team that we’re still fighting.

“I remember giving an interview to the BBC right after the match and I just exploded in tears. You see the first five lines on the board are blue and you’re the first one that’s red. I really should have done better in the match.”

• Pro DQd after one hole of Q-school

The disappointment of losing his point was quickly forgotten, though, as agony turned to ecstasy in dramatic circumstances.

“When you finish, you go straight back out, you stand at the side of the green and you shout at the top of your lungs every time your teammate makes a putt.

“It’s so difficult to control your emotions. You’re there with 11 other guys and 11 other caddies that you’ve played golf with for years.

“What is more incredible is when you look at the last hour of the singles on Sunday, it goes from this could happen to this is happening to the last two matches with Kaymer and Molinari.

“The swing of emotion in the last 30 minutes was unbearable. You can see looking at the pictures. The face of Olazabal – he’s just all over the place.

“It’s like you’re in extra time in a Champion’s League final. Things just happen. What always amazes me is something that’s happening live like that, right in front of you, goes down in the history books forever. It just happens so fast, so quick. It makes the moment even more intense.”

Finally, Martin Kaymer secured the winning point. Europe, against the odds, had won.

“It’s no coincidence that they call it the ‘Miracle at Medinah’ because, in the end, it was a true miracle to pull this off,” says Colsaerts. “Ten years later, to think about how things happened; it’s a putt here and a putt there, a chip here and a chip there.

“It’s astonishing.”

Colsaerts Olazabal

Ten years on, and Colsaerts is getting back into competitive golf. 

As he explains in an upcoming edition of bunkered magazine, the Dubai-based Belgian underwent treatment for kidney disease. His time away from the golf course has caused him drop out of the world’s top 1,000.

A tentative return to action on the DP World Tour hasn’t yet given Colsaerts the results he is hoping for, but it’s surely only a matter of time before the man who took down Woods and Stricker returns to form.

If he needs any motivation, then perhaps looking back to his performance a decade ago could be the catalyst to taking on the best in the game again.

author headshot

Lewis Fraser As bunkered’s Performance Editor, Lewis oversees the content that’s designed to make you a better player. From the latest gear to tuition, nutrition, strategy and more, he’s the man. A graduate of the University of Stirling, Lewis joined bunkered in 2021. Formerly a caddie at Castle Stuart Golf Links, he is a member of Bathgate Golf Club where he plays off four.

Performance Editor

More Reads

Image Turnberry green

The bunkered Golf Course Guide - Scotland

Now, with bunkered, you can discover the golf courses Scotland has to offer. Trust us, you will not be disappointed.

Find Courses