Bernd Wiesberger believes the future of Austrian golf is in very safe hands after the recent emergence of so many talented amateurs.
The 2012 Ballantine’s Champion, who is all set to make his first professional appearance in America at next week’s WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, believes it is only a matter of time before he is joined at the elite level by the likes of Manuel Trappel, the reigning European Amateur Champion, and also Matthias Schwab, who came agonisingly close to becoming the first Austrian to win the Amateur Championship last month.
The duo will be joined in the field at this week’s Lyoness Open powered by Greenfinity by five fellow Austrian amateurs – including Schwab’s younger brother Johannes – and whilst Wiesberger will undoubtedly be one of the star attractions at Diamond Country Club, he expects some of the young guns to upstage their so-called superior rivals.
Wiesberger said: “Obviously Alan Dunbar played the last two holes very well to win the Amateur Championship, but we could – and probably should – have had the only two amateurs in the field at The Open last week, which for a country like Austria would’ve been an unbelievable achievement.
“The Austrian Federation has done a great job in building up a strong base of good, young players, and now they’re able to pick the best fruits from the tree. A lot of the amateurs we have are now showing to show some great potential, so it’s a very exciting time for Austrian golf. I’m sure one or two of them here this week will surprise a few people with how good they are already.
“Manuel [Trappel] may have been a bit disappointed with how he played at The Open, but it would have been a great experience for him to play with some of the world’s best players on a very tough course. I’m sure he learned from it, and knows where he needs to improve if he’s going to compete at the highest level. He’s definitely got the talent along with Matthias and a few others, so the future looks very bright for Austrian golf.”
As for his own prospects this week, Wiesberger is quietly confident of rediscovering his best form after spending some quality time on the range last week with his coach, Philipp de Busschere.
The Belgian was with Wiesberger when he claimed his debut European Tour title in Korea in April, but as de Busschere lives and works in Indonesia, their schedules only occasionally overlap.
But with de Busschere’s fresh advice still ringing in his ears, Wiesberger is now hopeful of replicating – or perhaps even bettering – last year’s top five finish in Atzenbrugg.
He said: “I haven’t played as well as I would’ve liked in recent weeks, but I had a good couple of days practising with Philipp, which helped restored some of my confidence. I’ve still got one or two things to work on this week, but I feel much better about my game now than I did a few weeks ago. There were no major changes, just a few small things here and there. I’ve managed to tighten up my swing, and hopefully we’ll see the benefits of that this week.”
After his victory Wiesberger would have earmarked these two weeks as perhaps the most important of his entire season, with the trip to Firestone Country Club, in Akron, to come next.
The US$8.5million event will mark Wiesberger’s first taste of World Golf Championship action, and the 26 year old is relishing the prospect of rubbing shoulders with the globe’s pre-eminent players.
“My main goals this year were to win on The European Tour and play my first pro tournament in America,” he said, “and luckily I managed to achieve both in one go with my win in Korea.
“Playing the WGC next week will definitely be one of the highlights of my career, so I’m very excited about it. This week is the perfect warm-up event, because it’s quite tight off the tee and the rough is fairly thick, so my driving will have to be accurate. If I drive it well and play well here this week, it’ll give me a lot of confidence to take into next week.
“I’ve had a look at the course online and spoken to a few of the other players, so I know what to expect. I’m sure it will still be a bit of a surprise when I get out there, but a very nice surprise.”