Nicolas Colsaerts into last eight at Belgian Knockout as Thomas Pieters bows out
By Keith Jackson
Last Updated: 21/05/18 1:04am
Nicolas Colsaerts delighted his home fans in Antwerp as he cruised into the quarter-finals of the inaugural Belgian Knockout.
Colsaerts was left flying the flag for the host nation after tournament host Thomas Pieters was among three Belgians to suffer defeats in the first knockout round on Saturday.
The 2012 Ryder Cup star clearly enjoyed the innovative nine-hole stroke play knockout format, earning one-shot wins over Richie Ramsay and Lorenzo Gagli before outclassing Joachim B Hansen in the last 16.
Colsaerts birdied the fourth and then made a superb eagle-two at the seventh as he cantered to a three-stroke win over the Dane, earning a last-eight clash with Adrian Otaegui on Sunday morning.
Otaegui edged a tight clash against Matthew Southgate, who was one of four English players to bow out in the last 16, with James Heath fighting back from one down with two to play to beat Ryder Cup vice-captain Robert Karlsson at the first extra hole.
Heath appeared certain to lose his last-32 encounter against Scott Fernandez as the Spaniard led by two strokes heading to the final hole having matched Heath's birdies at the seventh and eighth.
But Fernandez carved his drive into trouble at the ninth and had to stab his ball back into play, while Heath set up a third birdie in a row with a sublime second to three feet.
Fernandez then compounded his error off the tee when he three-putted for a double-bogey six, and Heath took full advantage as he rattled in the winning putt before ousting Karlsson in the final match of the day.
France have three players in the quarter-finals, with Mike Lorenzo-Vera hoping to avoid a runner-up finish for the third consecutive week.
Lorenzo-Vera, a beaten finalist with Romain Wattel at the GolfSixes before losing out to Joakim Lagergren in a play-off in Sicily last week, was five under in an impressive three-shot win over Soren Kjeldsen in the last 32.
He then played steady golf to ease past an erratic Matthew Baldwin to earn a quarter-final clash against Scotland's David Drysdale, who finished level with Josh Geary after nine holes before a birdie at the second play-off hole saw off the Australian.
Lorenzo-Vera's compatriots Benjamin Hebert and Victor Perez also made the final eight with wins over Stephen Gallacher and Oliver Fisher respectively, while Jorge Campillo completed the quarter-final line-up as he recovered from an awful start against Richard McEvoy.
Campillo bogeyed three of the first five holes before reeling off three consecutive birdies, and that proved enough to advance as McEvoy finished on one over par.
But Pieters was the biggest casualty in the first round of knockout matches as he failed to make a single birdie against Max Kieffer, the German coasting to a three-shot victory on two under.