05 Dec 2019

Matthias Schwab: Getting ready to spread his wings

Young Austrian hot-shot Matthias Schwab seems to be on a fast-track to success. From being ranked the highest European in the World Amateur Golf Rankings during a hugely successful stint at Vanderbilt University in Tennessee, to helping Europe to victory in the Palmer Cup in 2016, Schwab has tasted triumph every step of the way. 

He turned professional in 2017 and after a good season on the Challenge Tour he went on to earn his European Tour card through Q-School, going on to finish 72nd in the Race to Dubai in his debut campaign. 

With a passion for extreme sports, he’s never bored when he’s away from the golf course and he’s proved he can cut it at the top level with a fourth place finish in his WGC debut in Shanghai before missing out narrowly to Tyrrell Hatton in a play-off for the Turkish Airlines Open in October. We talked to the outgoing 24-year-old after his DP World Tour Championship debut to find out what makes him tick.

You grew up in a fairly remote part of Austria – how did you come to play golf – a sport which is clearly not as popular as others in the country?

MATTHIAS: I grew up skiing in the winter and playing golf in the summer and it went back and forth like that until I was about 12-13 years old. Skiing was a lot of fun in winter and golf was a lot of fun in summer, I used to enjoy a break between those two seasons and that’s how it used to be.

You’ve been skydiving with your brother and have been known to go climbing mountains – where does this passion for extreme sports come from?

MATTHIAS:  Sometimes I love to do things out of the ordinary a little bit like skydiving with the Red Bull Skydive Team – which was awesome. And I just like spending time in nature, be it climbing or hiking, it gives me some down time from golf to help me clear my mind, take my mind off golf and do something that is very different. It’s nice and it’s good for me.

And with your sponsorship from Red Bull, have you been invited to do any extra cool stuff with them, in addition to the skydiving?

MATTHIAS: Yeah I would say that Red Bull is the
best partner I could have. I’m a big Formula One fan and I’ve had the chance to go see the Red Bull racing team in Germany and watch them and follow them. I’m also a big football fan and I’ve been to a few of the UEFA Champions League games involving Red Bull Salzburg which is nice. I’ve skydived which was awesome too and been to some X-Fighters motorcross events. It’s great for me because I like all these things.

Looking at the season your fellow countryman Bernd Wiesberger has had – how big an inspiration is he to you and what is your relationship with him?

MATTHIAS: We hang out every now and then and have dinner and stuff like that, maybe play some holes together on practice days and it’s nice to get together and to watch him play. It’s great to see him play so well after his tough season in 2018 with his major wrist injury. There’s a lot of things I can learn from him – be it his iron-play or be it his general approach to the game and how he’s finished off tournaments in style. 

Earlier this year you played in all five of the Middle East events at the beginning of the season and then the DP World Tour Championship to finish. Which course stood out as the most enjoyable and how do you feel your game fits the courses out here in the region?

MATTHIAS: I think the course and event I liked the most, and which suited my game the most was the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship. The course is very good and very tough, but overall I enjoy playing in the Middle East a lot. It’s always fun to be in Dubai and to play in Oman, Qatar and Saudi Arabia too – Saudi Arabia was a good, new experience for me. But overall the Abu Dhabi tournament was the one I enjoyed the most and I hope to improve and play well in all of them next year.

What did you learn from your time on the Challenge Tour and how did it prepare you for life on the European Tour?

MATTHIAS: I would say in general that on the Challenge Tour there are a lot of good players and you have to play well to be on top or around the top five on the leaderboards. It made me focus even more on the game, focus harder and try and really get better to make the move onto the European Tour.

You went to University at Vanderbilt which is in the heart of Nashville, Tennessee – how was that experience and did you come away from there a fan of country music and Elvis?

MATTHIAS: Vanderbilt was a great experience for me and I’m glad I stayed for all four years so I could graduate and get a degree. It was a little bit tough to adapt in the early stages but I started to get used to the American way of life. Nashville is a great city, a music capital, if you will, with a lot of Country music but strangely not as much Elvis-related stuff. I did come away from there a fan of country music! 

This year you played the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship alongside former Heavyweight Champion boxer Wladimir Klitschko – he’s a good man to have in your corner! How did this relationship form and how good is he at golf?

MATTHIAS: Playing with Wladimir was pretty awesome – but I don’t know how it came together because I think a lot of the pairings are done at random for the tournament. But I was excited when it was announced, he’s a great guy and a really good competitor. He’s an okay golfer and he’s got a bit of work to do but I could tell he was really ambitious, has a great attitude towards it and I hope we can get together again next year.

Matthias Schwab teams up with Wladimir Kitschko at the 2019 Alfred Dunhill Links Championship in Scotland.

 

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