Nicolas Colsaerts revealed how he was inspired by Europe’s Ryder Cup victory at Gleneagles after taking the halfway lead in the BMW Masters in Shanghai.
Colsaerts was part of the winning team at Medinah in 2012 but failed to make the team this year and had to settle for commentating on the event instead for radio.
The 31-year-old responded by coming agonisingly close to recording the first 59 in European Tour history in his next competitive round in the Portugal Masters, where he finished second to France’s Alexander Levy.
A superb 64 at Lake Malaren yesterday ensured those positions were reversed, with Colsaerts on 14 under and overnight leader Levy 13 under after adding a 66 to his opening 65.
“I felt like I’ve been in the zone a couple of times lately and it doesn’t really happen in such a short period of time like this,” said Colsaerts, who won the 2012 Volvo World Match Play Championship but struggled to reproduce that form when he tried his luck on the PGA Tour last season. “So it’s pretty nice when you can get it going like this and I’ve been playing quite well for the last couple of months.
“I’m comfortable being back here now. I’m quite happy being here and playing the way I am capable of.”
Speaking about being reduced to the role of spectator at Gleneagles, the world No 142 added: “Even though I was far out of making that team, I still felt that I was that type of calibre player.
“When you get to see it like that from the outside, I certainly was missing it. I wish I could have been playing in it and it’s almost like you go back the week after and you just keep that intensity that you’ve seen at the Ryder Cup and bring that out in the next tournament.
“You realise how golf should be played on some of the courses and not be afraid of taking command. When you see match play for a week like that, it’s actually quite interesting to see how low you can go and maybe in stroke play sometimes we’re a little bit more playing on the safe side of things.”
Romain Wattel was two shots further back on 11 under, with Marcel Siem, Branden Grace and Emiliano Grillo all 10 under and Thomas Bjorn alone in seventh another shot adrift.
Bjorn got off to a nightmare start with a bogey on the first and triple-bogey eight on the third, but then carded nine birdies in the last 15 holes to record a 67 in his first tournament since the Ryder Cup.
Justin Rose was two shots behind Bjorn as his own comeback continued, the world No 6 recovering from being four over after four holes to card an opening 72 and adding a superb 65 on Friday. “The guys took advantage of the scoring conditions and basically my seven under was needed to just keep pace,” said Rose.
Sheffield’s Danny Willett moved to three under par with a round of 70 while Simon Dyson’s level-par 72 means he remains three over.