Matthias Schwab can turn Race to Dubai into all-Austrian affair

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Matthias Schwab can turn Race to Dubai into all-Austrian affair

Euro Tour

Matthias Schwab can turn Race to Dubai into all-Austrian affair

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The Race to Dubai could turn into an All-Austrian affair if Matthias Schwab continues his fine play in the $7 million Turkish Airlines Open. Schwab can draw closer to compatriot and European No. 1 Bernd Wiesberger by earning his maiden European Tour.

It’s ironic considering that no Austrian has ever really come close to finishing any season as European No. 1.

Schwab took a one-shot lead into the third round, and finished the day with three-shot advantage over the quintet of Patrick Reed, Scotland’s Robert Macintyre, Benjamin Hebert of France and Englishmen Ross Fisher and Tyrrell Hatton. Schwab, a Vanderbilt graduate, returned a 6-under 66 to move to 18 under and grab the lead on his own.

The 24-year-old is continuing the form he showed in China last week when he finished T4 in the WGC-HSBC Champions, his debut in a WGC event.

“I got off to a really nice start on the first hole with the eagle that I made and then played solid golf all around,” Schwab said.

Turkish Airlines Open: Leaderboard

Schwab instituted a new tactic in China that has helped him this week.

“I started putting with the flag in last week at the HSBC in China. My caddie came up with the idea. They weren’t really going in before, and especially in Paris (the French Open), so we tried something different, and it seems to work.”

Schwab is in just his second European Tour season following a successful rookie season that saw him finish 72nd on the Race to Dubai. He arrived in Turkey ranked 18th and is predicted to move to fourth if he wins. That will put him just three places behind Wiesberger, who has three wins this season.

Wiesberger, who lies joint 54th,  is far and away Austria’s most successful player, with seven career European Tour victories. He’s twice finished ninth on the Race to Dubai (2015 and 2016) and would be a worthy No. 1 this year. With two big money tournaments left to play, Schwab can give his countryman a good fight for that title if he makes the Turkish Airlines his maiden victory.

“The game plan is going to be the same as it’s been the last three days,” Schwab said. “The course is gettable and there are a lot of birdies out there, so I’ll just stay aggressive because pars won’t be enough.”

Reed got into contention with a 7-under 65 but came off the Maxx Royal course in Antalya feeling he could have shot lower.

“Any time you shoot 65, you’re happy,” said Reed, who began the week by being named as a wild card for the U.S. Presidents Cup team. “There’s a lot I left out there today, just alone on two of the par 5s and 5-footer for birdie, that was straightforward and ended up walking off with 6. Missed a really short one for birdie on 4, just those alone, that’s three shots.”

Justin Rose slumped to a 1-over 73 to say goodbye to the chance of winning the title for the third successive year. He is nine shots off the lead in a tie for 25th.

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