By Mark Lamport-Stokes
PINEHURST North Carolina (Reuters) - Homesick for the European lifestyle, Belgium's Nicolas Colsaerts has mainly struggled on the PGA Tour this season but hopes that his love of the U.S. Open can help reignite his game this week at Pinehurst.
The 31-year-old, who is nicknamed the 'Belgian Bomber' because of his prodigious length off the tee, has recorded only one top-25 in 11 starts on the 2013-14 PGA Tour, yet feels his style of play is ideally suited to Pinehurst's No. 2 Course.
With very little rough and wider fairways than usual for the season's second major, Colsaerts plans to use his driver whenever possible to overpower a par-70 layout that measures 7,562 yards off the back tees.
"Pinehurst sets up pretty good for my game because if I drive the ball well, I can send it a long way down these dry fairways and obviously that will give me a shorter club in," Colsaerts told Reuters on Wednesday.
"So I think it's worth it on occasions to try to take a risk and have the shorter club in. And in that case, even if you have a so-so drive, you can probably hack it pretty close to the green anyway."
Colsaerts, a double winner on the European Tour who decided to try his hand at competing regularly on the U.S. circuit last year, ended his final practice round on Wednesday by blasting a drive off the 18th tee that flew 314 yards down the fairway.
"On 18, you can hit anything between a two-iron, three-wood or a rescue but then you leave yourself a long way in and it's not a very easy green to hit," he smiled, as he referred to the 451-yard par-four hole.
"So why not try hitting a driver and then if it doesn't turn out to be good, play from the same spots all these other guys are going to be playing from with their third (shots)."
STUNNING CUP DEBUT
Colsaerts, who made himself known to American golf fans with a spectacular start to his Ryder Cup career in 2012, is eagerly looking forward to his fourth U.S. Open start at Pinehurst this week.
He has already proved his comfort level in the tournament, having soared briefly into contention for the 2012 U.S. Open at the Olympic Club outside San Francisco, where he tied for 27th and flourished last year at Merion where he finished joint 10th.
"The U.S. Open is a ball-striking display and I am more of a ball-striking guy than I am a grinder," he replied when asked why his game seemed to gel at U.S. Opens.
"If you hit good shots, you get rewarded. Out here at Pinehurst, it's not quite the same deal because you can hit very good shots all day and look like a clown," Colsaerts said, referring to Pinehurst's notorious turtle-back greens.
"So a little luck is going to be a big part this week but I have always liked this tournament because it rewards a good ball-striking display and I was always pretty good at that."
Colsaerts, who reeled off eight birdies and an eagle as he and partner Lee Westwood beat Tiger Woods and Steve Stricker in the opening-day fourballs at the 2012 Ryder Cup outside Chicago, heads into this week after a sub-par PGA Tour season.
"My form has been average to poor, really," said the Belgian, who has missed four cuts in his last five starts on the U.S. circuit. "I took the step of coming to play over here in the United States but it hasn't really suited me.
"I don't really fall into this lifestyle or spending that much time here in this country. It's certainly taken its toll. I can honestly say I will be pretty glad to go back home, play the European Tour and find my best form."
(Editing by Frank Pingue)
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