- Associated Press - Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Just 18 months ago, Nicolas Colsaerts had little reason to believe he could be going so many places. He was No. 179 in the world and had yet to win on a major tour.

Now, the big hitter from Belgium has a chance to have the best of two worlds. Colsaerts received a sponsor exemption this week to the Frys.com Open, and what might be last chance to secure a PGA Tour card for 2013.

He has $652,886 and needs to finish the equivalent of No. 125 on the tour money list to earn a full card. That’s the equivalent of No. 120 with three events remaining.

“When you get a chance to play this tour with all these players, the course you play on such a big stage, it would be stupid not to consider it,” Colsaerts said Tuesday from CordeValle Golf Club in San Martin, Calif. I’ve always played in Europe for a lot of years. It’s an unbelievable tour to play on and get your grades up. But once you get a taste of what the possibilities here are, they get you pretty excited.”

Colsaerts broke through last year by winning the China Open, and he picked up another win this spring at the World Match Play Championship in Spain. Throw in a tie for seventh at the British Open, where he opened and finished with a 65, and it carried him onto the Ryder Cup team where he had a 63 on his own ball _ eight birdies, one eagle and one bogey _ to single-handedly beat Tiger Woods and Steve Stricker.

It’s already been quite a year, and the Belgian Bomber is looking for more.

“I’ve been to the U.S. quite a lot,” he said. “But when you realize how many unbelievable golf courses you have around the country, it’s quite unbelievable for somebody like me coming from such a small country to have a chance to play golf around an unbelievable country like and you have play these fantastic courses.”

OK, so he likes it America. But apparently his affinity goes beyond the golf.

“I have to say, I have a little thing for Five Guys burgers,” Colsaerts said.

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RORY HONORS: Rory McIlroy already is assured of at least two more awards this year.

McIlroy officially has wrapped up the Arnold Palmer Award for leading the PGA Tour money list at $8,047,952, the seventh-highest total in tour history. He also has clinched the PGA of America’s player of the year award, which is based on points. McIlroy had four wins this year, including the PGA Championship.

Still to be tabulated is the Vardon Trophy for the lowest adjusted scoring average, although McIlroy is a lock for that, too, because he has more than a half-stroke lead over Jim Furyk (68.87 to 69.41). Tiger Woods is ineligible for the Vardon because he withdrew in the middle of the final round at Doral this year.

The Jack Nicklaus Award for PGA Tour player of the year is a vote of his peers. Those ballots won’t go out until after Disney, though it’s hard to imagine anyone topping McIlroy winning four times, a major, and the money title in just 16 tournaments.

He would be the second straight European, and the third in the last five years, to win that award. Luke Donald won in 2011 and Padraig Harrington won in 2008.

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