2022 Soudal Open Preview
THE DP World Tour returns to Belgium this week for the inaugural playing of the Soudal Open at Rinkven Golf Club.
Emotions are sure to run high as popular Belgian Nicolas Colsaerts returns to action. The big-hitting former Ryder Cup player began to feel unwell at the DP World Tour Championship in Dubai last November. His ankles ballooned and he was struggling to sleep.
He went to hospital, where a CT scan revealed blood clots and a lung one-third full of fluid.
He was eventually diagnosed with a condition called membranous nephropathy, which occurs when the small blood vessels in the kidney become damaged and thickened. Proteins then leak from the damaged blood vessels into the urine. There is no cure.
“I had been telling my wife there was something going on,” he says. “I wasn’t quite sure what it was, but I knew it was something more than just ‘go to the doctor, get a pill and move on.’ I knew within myself that it was something that needed to be looked at.
“Had I followed my travel plans - I was due to fly to Asia - I could have been in real trouble. Because of the blood clots in my lungs, I could have died. Anything could have happened. It’s not an exact science. And that lack of knowledge was and is pretty worrying. I’m nearly 40. I’ve lived a bit of a rock-and-roll lifestyle at times. So I’m a perfect candidate for a stroke, or something of that nature.”
It has all put golf into perspective for Colsaerts, who is one of the most popular golfers on the DP World Tour.
He said: "The way it’s going to affect my golf is a little bit of a question mark, I’m sick but I don’t feel sick, I am hoping I can play as many tournaments as possible. I’ve been a loyal supporter of the DP World Tour so I hope that I’m going to be able to go to the events that I’ve always liked playing over the past 20 years and see what this year has in store for me."
He had to rest and recuperate after undergoing immunosuppressant treatment. It meant his body wasn’t producing antibodies so travelling was out of the question.
But he now feels well enough to return to action and all eyes will be on him this week, when he will also be joined by fellow Belgians Thomas Pieters and Thomas Detry.
Pieters is a six-time winner on the DP World Tour, the most recent of which came at the Abu Dhabi Championship in January. He also finished in a tie for 12th at the Dubai Desert Classic. Pieters is a magnificent ball striker and is attempting to balance life between both the PGA and DP World Tours. He has made five starts in America, missing three cuts. But do not underestimate the 30-year-old, who will be determined to put on a show for his home fans.
Detry is something of an enigma. He has a wonderful golf swing and a perfect temperament. He hits the ball miles and also possesses a top-class short game. So how is it possible that he has reached the age of 29 and is still looking for his first DP World Tour title?
Contrast his fortunes with those of Bernd Wiesberger. The Austrian is another who is blessed with a magnificent tempo. But he has won eight times on the DP World Tour and is once again striking the ball quite beautifully and, crucially, holing putts. For my money, he is the man to beat in Belgium.
Adrian Meronk carries the hopes of Poland on his shoulders. He is a giant of a man who is capable of propelling the ball vast distances but he hits a lot of fairways and has a lovely short game.
He hasn’t miss a cut this year and finished tied for third at both the Qatar Masters and the Catalunya Championship. But it was perhaps his performance at the Kenya Open that tells you most about the sort of man he is - he was in contention after two round but had a horrific third round of 81. Many golfers would have given up. Not Meronk, who finished the tournament with a 65.
This is the inaugural Soudal Open.
Rinkven Golf Club was designed by Belgian course architect Paul Rolin. It is a 36-hole layout, but the course being used this week is The North, which is a par 71 measuring just 6,924 yards. Plenty of trees and water come into play on several holes but expect a very low winning total.
Adrian Meronk missed the cut at the British Masters but that was a rare blip, having finished in a tie for third at both the Qatar Masters and Catalunya Championship. He is a wonderful ball striker. Bernd Wiesberger has had a slow start to the season but showed encouraging signs at both the Catalunya Championship and British Masters.
Bernd Wiesberger. Ready for another victory
Adrian Meronk. First win cannot be far away
Thomas Pieters. Would love to win for home fans
Five to Follow:
Bernd Wiesberger. Has very few weaknesses
Adrian Meronk. Hugely impressive Polish player
Thomas Pieters. Hoping for a hot putter
Ryan Fox. In fabulous form
Thomas Detry. Can never be written off
Five Outsiders to Follow:
Edoardo Molinari. Needs a decent week on the greens
Dave Coupland. A final round of 79 proved very costly at the Catalunya Championship
Richard Mansell. Coming off a couple of good weeks in Spain
Nicolas Colsaerts. Won’t be a dry eye in the house if he plays well
Jamie Donaldson. His sort of course
How You Can Watch:
Thursday, Friday, Sky Sports Golf, midday, Saturday, Sunday, 12.30pm
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