Vanderbilt grad Matthias Schwab in position for first European Tour win

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Vanderbilt grad Matthias Schwab in position for first European Tour win

Euro Tour

Vanderbilt grad Matthias Schwab in position for first European Tour win

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Matthias Schwab and Tommy Fleetwood have much in common. Both lost in the final of the British Amateur Championship, yet they’ve gone on to have more successful careers than the men who beat them. Schwab could be on the verge of joining Fleetwood as a European Tour winner.

The Vanderbilt graduate shares the lead with England’s Tom Lewis in the $7 million Turkish Airlines Open after both recorded 7-under 65s on the Montgomerie Maxx Royal course in Antalya.

They sit one shot in front of Sweden’s Alex Noren, Thomas Pieters of Belgium and American David Lipsky. Defending champion Justin Rose is part of a six-way tie for sixth on 5-under.

Schwab only dropped one shot in his opening round, a five at the par-4 ninth hole. However, he offset that mistake with six birdies and an eagle at the par-5 fourth.

Leaderboard: Turkish Airlines Open

The Austrian has nine top 10 finishes this year, his second on the European Tour, including runner-up in the Porsche European Open. He’s placed fourth in two of his last three tournaments, the WGC-HSBC Champions and Italian Open. It adds up to 18th on the Race to Dubai.

“I got off to a nice start, five under through eight and managed to keep the momentum going on the back nine,” the 24 year old said. “I was hitting it nicely today and made a few putts.

“Every time I tee it up, it seems to be working well the last few months, but I have no recipe.”

Schwab lost to Northern Ireland’s Alan Dunbar in the 2012 British Amateur at Royal Troon, four years after Fleetwood lost to Dutchman Reiner Saxton. Both were 17, and there was a sense each would have better careers than Dunbar and Saxton. So it’s proved. Dunbar failed four times to gain his European Tour card before calling it quits. Saxton has never gained a foothold on the European Tour. He’s currently 117th on the European Challenge Tour.

Schwab would no doubt love to emulate Fleetwood’s career. He can start with a win this week.

Lewis has also parlayed a great amateur career into a winning professional one. The Englishman shot 65 in the opening round of the 2011 Open Championship, the lowest score by an amateur in the tournament’s history, and went on to win the silver medal as low amateur. He helped Great Britain & Ireland win the 2011 Walker Cup before embarking on a pro career that has given him two wins. Both those have come in Portugal, and he might add the Turkish Airlines Open if he continues to putt as he did in the open round.

“I felt like I wasn’t comfortably rolling it on the front nine, even though I hit some good shots,” said Lewis, who birdied six of the last seven holes on the back nine to come home in 31. “On the back nine I continued to hit good shots, and I felt more confident on putts.

Rose is chasing his third successive Turkish Airlines title. He birdied two holes on the front side and then started bogey, eagle, bogey on the back. However, he birdied his last three holes.

“The hot finish was exactly what we needed,” said Rose. The highest ranked player in the field at world number eight.

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