In this week’s Player Blog presented by Enterprise Rent-A-Car, Marcel Schneider talks about going back to his very first coach, having his brother on the bag, his early challenges as a professional and his love for photography.
I was nine when I first hit a golf ball and the pro at the driving range came over to me after my first two shots. It's quite interesting because nobody in my family played golf. We went on holiday to Austria and I looked out of the hotel and saw a driving range and every morning the white balls were flying through the air. I asked my dad to take me over there and after hitting a couple of shots the pro came over and said I was looking pretty good.
Richard Fries was my first ever coach when I was nine and I'm now back working with him. We split after a couple of years because he moved to another golf course and I was not able to drive there as I was too young to have a licence! But three years ago we met again and things are really going in the right direction. From the beginning I felt as though he understands my game like no-one else because he has seen me growing up.
I decided this year to get my brother Pascal on the bag. He has supported me at a couple of German events before but this year as a family we decided to put him by my side supporting me. He's a good player too, he plays off plus-three, so he understands the game pretty well, he understands technique, he's helping me with technique on the golf course and with implementing what my coach is saying.
I was quite good at tennis when I was young. I put a lot of time into tennis and when I was around 14 I had to decide if I was going to play tennis or golf. I played soccer but that was mainly due to my friends playing it. I played table tennis a bit as well.
We spent a whole month in Australia with the national team when I won the Australian Amateur Championship in 2012. We had an event before where I didn't play as well but then I played fantastic golf. It was big because my national coach caddied for me and it was one of my biggest successes as an amateur. It was a great season, I had three second-placed finishes at big amateur events and finished the year sixth in the World Ranking and that's when I decided to turn professional.
Going from the sixth-ranked amateur in the world to the Pro Golf Tour, I felt it would only be a short time before I would advance quite easily. But the first year I struggled and finished 14th in the rankings. For the second year I knew I had to be more patient and week for week on a higher level to get through. I learned that golf is all about patience. Even if you start badly, you have to believe in yourself and be patient and go tournament-by-tournament and try your best. You have to prepare professionally. That first year of struggle really helped me top the rankings in 2014. Golf is not a sprint, it's a marathon.
I decided after coming through Qualifying School in 2017 that I would just see how it went and when it was not going great, I went back to the Challenge Tour to see if I could secure myself a better category. The Challenge Tour is a pretty tough Tour. The top 20 players on the Challenge Tour are at least as good as on the DP World Tour and if you can succeed over there, there is no reason why you can't succeed on the DP World Tour. Something clicked in my head when I had my first win at the 2018 Swiss Challenge, where I went wire-to-wire and won by six shots.
When I finished runner-up at the 2020 Austrian Open it was a great feeling to be right in contention to win a DP World Tour event. I knew for sure I could play well on the DP World Tour, I had everything you need to be successful but it was great to see it translate into a result. It proved to me I could do it and I started believing in myself more and more that I could be successful. You need the belief and the results to make you stronger. It was frustrating to miss out on a card after that year due to Covid. I knew before they had frozen the category and to play so well and stay on the Challenge Tour was super frustrating. To secure my card the year after was a great feeling. It proved to me that I can be up there.
The 2021 Kaskáda Golf Challenge that got me into The Open Championship was amazing. I double-bogeyed the 15th and just after holing that putt I thought I could not finish in the top three. Then on the way to the 16th tee I saw a leaderboard that showed other guys were dropping shots as well. So I just thought let's go, made three birdies and won the event.
A friend of mine had to remind me that week that we were playing for a place at The Open. I didn't think about it until Thursday but it motivated me. The Open was massive. After playing two years without any spectators, getting to The Open at Royal St George’s was huge with the grandstands and the big names. The result wasn't too good but the week was great.
It is always special to do well back home, it feels like a bigger event than it would be if you weren't on home soil. In Hamburg, I had finished seventh the year before so I just thought I'd go back there and try my best. I didn't think about the U.S. Open, it just felt great and I finished fifth. I had it in my mind somewhere but I just thought about playing well and seeing what happens. Qualifying for the U.S. Open was just a good add-on.
The U.S. Open last week was my first time playing professionally in the United States. Everyone says how tough a U.S. Open and they aren’t wrong, it was super tough! I enjoyed how tough it was over there. The score wasn’t too good and I couldn’t find my game the whole week but it was a fantastic experience. The big crowds and the grandstands with the cheering, it was a really great week.
I have friends who will come and watch this week. I love Munich as a city and I think it’s the perfect tournament, all the organisation is on point and the course is always lovely to play so I’m really looking forward to the week. I wouldn’t say there’s extra pressure but you want to play well back home and prove to people how good you are. The team at BMW have given me an M Series car for the week, so I'm enjoying the ride from home to Munich.
The main focus at the beginning of the year was 100% to secure my card at the end of the season. That is my main goal for the year. I want to play as well as the last few weeks and if I secure my card in the summer then I'm going for the next goal, which would be to play at the DP World Tour Championship. I haven't played that event yet but I love Dubai and it would be amazing.
It would also be amazing to play The 150th Open Championship at St Andrews because I think Tiger will be there. I watched a lot of him growing up and I thought he would be playing the U.S. Open. When I qualified for the U.S. Open I thought it would be the first event I would play with Tiger but he had to pull out, that was a shame.
Playing so many weeks away from home is pretty hard sometimes, especially if you're not doing well. It's a long time being away from home and you're missing loved ones. But on the other side it's so great seeing all the places and travelling a lot. Most of the time we're getting into super places where you don't get to go.
Away from the golf course, I'm really interested in photography. Over the last couple of years I've put quite a bit of money into it, equipment-wise I'm pretty professional. The outcome depends on who is looking at it but I would say it's pretty good, although maybe not professional level. I love to grab the camera and the tripod and go to places, do some long exposure and then work on pictures on the computer and get them blown up for the walls. In Dubai, I set my alarm for 5am one morning and went and got some great shots of the sunrise.