Tournament: Barbasol Championship
DP World Tour Rankings: Tournament 24 of 44 events
Venue: Keene Trace Golf Club, Nicholasville, Kentucky, United States of America
Prize Fund: $3,700,000
Hashtag: #BarbasolChamp #DPWT
Matti Schmid, last season’s DP World Tour Rookie of the Year, can’t wait to tee it up at this week’s Barbasol Championship in Kentucky, the state in which he studied before turning professional last year.
The 24-year-old graduated from the University of Louisville, an hour west of Keene Trace Golf Club, site of this week’s Barbasol Championship, and then went on to win the Silver Medal at The Open as the leading amateur at Royal St George’s.
A year on from his performance at The 149th Open, Schmid now has an opportunity to earn points and exemptions from both the DP World Tour and PGA TOUR this week, with the winner of this tournament also earning the final place at St Andrews for next week’s landmark 150th Open.
Schmid is one of 50 DP World Tour members who have been provided with an opportunity to play in Kentucky and at next week’s Barracuda Championship in California thanks to the DP World Tour’s Strategic Alliance with the PGA TOUR.
Last week, the Tours announced an expansion of that alliance to a 13-year operational joint venture partnership which will bring even greater benefits for both memberships.
Also teeing it up this week is South Africa’s Justin Walters, who is looking to build on a strong start to the year in which he has missed just four cuts from 15 starts. Marcus Helligkilde, last year’s Challenge Tour Number One, is also in the field and his making his first professional start on American soil.
Matti Schmid: “I’m a German who went to school here in Kentucky. Had a great time here during college — as a Louisville Cardinal. I think it helped my golf game tremendously. I wasn’t that good before. I would say I don’t think I would have made it straightaway on Tour, a high level on Tour, but college really has prepared me and has given me the opportunity to improve.
“I’m obviously very proud of myself that I was capable of (winning the Silver Medal). I have to say I was very thankful of the DP World Tour who have given me starts as an amateur and I think that just has prepared me a bit better. Once I turned pro, I know how things worked and I wasn’t as nervous or whatever. That helped, helped a lot to achieve those things.
“I think it’s a great opportunity obviously with the PGA Tour being involved in this. It’s a massive tournament, and also with DP World Tour ranking points, if you look at those, it’s one of the biggest events we have all year. It’s another opportunity to shine. I’m glad we have so many of those on Tour.”
Justin Walters: “Scoring will be low I think. All the par fives are pretty reachable. The rough’s not that high, but if they get firm greens the rough might cause a bit of trouble. The greens are perfect.
“It’s nice to come over and see how other Tours play, see how other players go about their business. If you can play really well one of these two weeks you can change things dramatically. It provides a good opportunity but competition is stiff, so you’ll have to play really good golf. It would be nice to be up there and have a chance.
“I’m probably playing the most consistent golf of my career. I worked really hard during Covid and I felt like my game was starting to come round. Last year was solid but I wasn’t putting four rounds together, now I’m starting to do that and moving up the leaderboards on Sunday.
“I played a lot of college golf in the States and did a year on the Korn Ferry Tour, what was the Nationwide. You just have to make a bunch of birdies, drive it good and putt it good. If you can do that for four days, you’ll have a chance.”
Marcus Helligkilde: “It’s a big opportunity. I’ve been injured for six or seven weeks – I played last week, went pretty well with my body. I didn’t expect to play here because of my injury, so I see it more as a fun week. I’m just happy to play tournament golf again. Yes, if I win, there’s a PGA TOUR card, but I’m just going to go out there and have fun.
“I played the US Amateur in 2017 and I played awful. So I have a score to settle this week.”