Vanderbilt grad Matthias Schwab 36 holes from first Euro Tour win


Matthias Schwab has a long way to go to surpass Bernd Wiesberger as Austria’s most successful golfer. The Vanderbilt alum can make inroads on Wiesberger’s successful European Tour career, however, if he can hold on for another 36 holes and win the $7 million Turkish Airlines Open.

Schwab takes the lead into the final two rounds after moving to 12-under par with a second-round, 5-under 67. He leads Sweden’s Alex Noren, Thomas Detry of Belgium and Englishmen Danny Willett and Ross Fisher by a shot as he chases his first European Tour victory in only his second season.

The 24-year-old eagled the par-5 first but bogeyed the par-3 fifth to play the front nine in 34. However, he made four birdies on the back side to finish atop the leaderboard.

Obviously the start was good with an eagle on the first hole, but then it was not very nice to watch,” Schwab said. “The long game wasn’t on, but I managed to make a few good pars. On the back nine I found my swing a little bit and made a few good birdies coming home.

“I just gave myself a few more looks on the back nine than the front nine.”

Schwab has been earmarked as a potential star since he finished runner-up to Northern Ireland’s Alan Dunbar in the 2012 British Amateur Championship at Royal Troon. He was a two-time All-American at Vanderbilt, and then moved seamlessly to the European Tour through the 2017 Qualifying School. He finished 72nd on last year’s Race to Dubai in his rookie season and arrived in Turkey 18th in the European pecking order.

Compatriot Wiesberger currently leads the Race to Dubai thanks to three wins this season to take his career tally to seven. He lies T62 in Turkey. Although, he’s a strong player, the 34-year-old might need to get used to seeing Schwab’s name above his on leaderboards. Schwab has the game to potentially better Wiesberger’s accomplishments.

Willett’s name on the leaderboard might have been a surprise 12 months ago. Not now. The 2016 Masters winner dropped off everyone’s radar after his surprise major win, but he’s back to his best form. Two big wins in his last 25 events, the 2018 DP World Tour Championship Dubai and this year’s BMW PGA Championship, is proof his post-Masters travails are behind him.

“We’re making some good moves,” Willett said. “Trying to keep doing the same. The golf course is there for the taking. Going to see a lot of low scores. You’ve just got to hope that someone doesn’t go too crazy over the weekend and hope that you’re still in there with a shout with 18 or nine to play.”

Noren is looking for his first win since last year’s French Open. He’s fallen from a high of World No. 12 to 60th since that victory.

Justin Rose’s dreams of a three-peat are still alive. The defending champion is two shots off the lead in a tie for sixth after a second successive 67.

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