At a press conference at the Rinkven International Golf Club, Nicolas Colsaerts, Thomas Detry and Lev Grinberg expressed their ambitions for the Soudal Open 2023 on Tuesday.
Nicolas Colsaerts (BEL):
It’s always nice when you come home. We’ve been lucky enough to have a tournament in Belgium, I didn’t have a Belgium Open for most of my career. To come back now over the last couple of years, having Soudal involved, they are involved in various sports, cycling is also a sport they sponsor a fair bit and that’s an iconic sport in Belgium. It makes sense. I’m happy to be back, we’d like the weather to be better and a few more rays of sun, but it’s what I grew up in and most Belgian people grew up in. It has a familiar vibe to it.
It’s always a bit strange when you play at home because you see faces you’ve known since you were a junior. It can throw you off at times. But in the end, I played well the first edition that we came back, it’s a really cool feeling to play in front of people you know really well, play well and have a good week. It’s not just me, it’s Detry or the other amateurs or young pros playing this week. Everyone is looking forward to having a good one and playing in front of people you know is a special vibe.
I never won here on the Challenge Tour or on the Main Tour, but I did win the Omnium of Belgium 20 years ago. I am one for one, because I only played one of those. It would be nice to play well. The mission is to play well first, I’m still in the process of putting a solid week together. If I could do it here, there would be a special taste.
I never had a chance to meet Flory (van Donck). It’s a bit of a regret to have never met the guy. He was twice runner up at The Open, if there was a Ryder Cup with Continentals back in the day, he’d have one hundred percent been part of the team. He had a Shell’s Wonderful World of Golf game here with Gene Sarazen as MC. He was a big golf personality and an amazing player. There was also Philippe Toussaint, who won the Benson & Hedges on the Main Tour in the 70s. It’ There’s a bit of history of professional golf in Belgium, but it’s a small country. We grew up in a different way coming from a small country. But we’ve had really, really good golfers and I’m so proud to add my name to that short list of good golfers that our country has been able to produce.
Thomas Detry (BEL):
I just feel like it has been a steady upward trend. Steadily getting better, my stats have been getting better, better results as well. Overall, just a more solid player year after year. I had the big step this summer when I qualified for the PGA TOUR. I’m giving it a good try and it’s been pretty good. I got off to a good start, which was key, when you come from the Korn Ferry category it’s key to get off to a good start and play in the elevated and bigger events. That’s what I did and I’ve really enjoyed the challenge so far. I’ve been travelling with my family, spending a lot of time overseas but it’s all part of it. It’s definitely changing my life.
It’s great to see some familiar faces, being back in Belgium is even better. You see friends and family, it’s going to be a busy week with a lot of them coming to watch me. I’m looking forward to it and it’s been great to be out here.
The level in Europe is very high. You have to play well no matter where you are. I don’t take this week any lighter than a week in America. Every week is a challenge. The guys here are younger names who are doing well, there’s no Rory this week or Scottie Scheffler this week, but all the other guys are really competitive and playing good golf, you have to get after it, play good golf and that’s what I’m hoping to do this week.
I was lucky to take two weeks off. I didn’t play last week, the Wells Fargo, or the week before that to take some time off. Hopefully it pays off. I took one week completely off, then last week I spent it training and working hard. Hopefully it pays off this week. I’m just really looking forward to the challenge. It hasn’t been easy. It’s been a lot of golf and I’ve been forced to play a lot of golf to keep up my ranking to get into the elevated events. I’ve been able to pace myself. I fell back a bit on the rankings but I think I’ll come back fresher and this week as well. I hope I can have another top five, top two or a win.
It would mean everything (to win this week). I’ve been near a couple of times and I’ve tried not to think about it too much. I’m doing my own thing now. I’ve got longer term focus and goals. Winning is a bonus. I’m sure it will happen someday, but if it could happen this week it would be a dream come true.
I handle the Ryder Cup the same way as getting a first win. It’s not a goal I try to think about all the time. It’s a consequence of great play, of achievements and goals reached. If I reach all these goals, a win will come and a Ryder Cup will come.
Flory was a bit older than me and I didn’t witness him during my life time. It was difficult as a young player to follow his steps because I never met him. But Nicolas, he was on Tour when I was 11 or 12 years old, so I saw him on TV and it was easier to relate to him. But Flory, you know everything he achieved, never won The Open but was so close a couple of times. He’s one of the greats, but Nicolas is someone I always looked up to, he was at the height of his career when I was younger.
Lev Grinberg (UKR):
I still think about it every day. All the good shots and good memories I had last year. I would really like to have a lot of them this year, good shots, good memories and enjoy it as much as last year.
In the winter I was practicing a lot and now I’m super ready for this week. I put in a lot of hard work and I’m really excited for what could happen next. My season is looking pretty stacked, I have a lot of big amateur events and I can’t wait for the season to start.
It’s an amazing experience because you can repeat the same things you have been practicing and put them in competition. Playing the same event twice on the same course, I can learn from what I did last year and put it into place this weekend. You can’t beat that experience or that fun.
This year I just want to try and hit a lot of good shots and try to focus and give myself little mental goals and things to focus on and get a good score. My game is pretty good and I’m confident and we’ll see what happens.
It’s going to be amazing. It’s the best week of the year for sure because there will be another huge crowd and seeing all the people cheer you on 18, it’s all very nice.
I feel like I’m improving year on year, and I feel like every tournament there’s something better in my game than the last. If I put the little bits into place, maybe soon I can have a Green Jacket on my shoulders.