By Tony Jimenez
VIRGINIA WATER, England (Reuters) - Nicolas Colsaerts may finally be seeing some light at the end of a long, dark tunnel after watching his fortunes nosedive since he featured in Europe's 2012 Ryder Cup victory.
The long-hitting Colsaerts has not won since landing the World Match Play title in Spain in 2012 but if he maintains his current rate of progress, he may not take too long to achieve the third European Tour victory of his career.
Colsaerts followed his 15th-place finish at this month's China Open by sharing third at the Mauritius Open and his form in the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth this week has improved with each passing day to give him an outside chance of victory.
"Right now I feel my game is good enough that if I make a couple of mistakes I can still hold a good score and a good day together," he told Reuters in an interview on Saturday after building on his opening 73 and 71 with a third-round 68, four under.
"You don't really waste any energy when you play well. You just go with a much smoother flow than when you're struggling and you're trying to find some things that just aren't there."
Colsaerts has a reputation as a bit of a party animal and was captured on film earlier this year hitting a three-iron into the night sky through a hotel window.
The 1.90-metre Belgian, who smashed a tour record 447-yard drive at the 2014 Welsh Open, notched up four birdies in a flawless front nine 31 on Saturday but the wheels threatened to fall off his round when he bogeyed the 10th and 11th.
Colsaerts has had a tendency in the past to react negatively to a sequence of disappointing scores but he says he is developing a more mature attitude these days.
"It's certainly something I can do a little bit better," he explained after hitting back by birdying the 12th, 16th and 17th holes. "When I make a mistake or two I shouldn't have made, I must make sure it's not worse than it is.
"Fifteen years on tour, 33 years old, I'm not 18 any more, you've got to grow up.
"It's knowing you are going to make mistakes, especially on a course like this where it can go both ways. You can make a move but if it's not really your day you can also rack up some stupid bogeys," said Colsaerts.
"When you make mistakes you have to limit the damage and keep going with your existing game plan. When you know you're playing well you look forward to the holes that are coming rather than seeing them as a possibility for a cock-up."
Colsaerts produced one of the best Ryder Cup debuts in history when, partnering Lee Westwood in the Friday fourballs in Chicago four years ago, he reeled off eight birdies and an eagle as the European pair polished off Tiger Woods and Steve Stricker.
The Belgian was once as high as 32nd in the world but now occupies a position among the game's journeymen at number 223.
Colsaerts knows it is early days in his efforts to recapture former glories and wants to keep his targets at an attainable level.
"I just want to make the most out of my week, ride a good momentum, keep these results going and hopefully eventually find something pretty big," he said.
(Editing by Clare Fallon)