Mixed Fortunes for Euro Rookies
Add Matti Schmid’s name to a list of European Tour Sir Henry Cotton Rookie of the Year winners that includes Jon Rahm, Brooks Koepka, Martin Kaymer, Sergio Garcia, Jose Maria Olazabal, Sandy Lyle, Sir Nick Faldo and Tony Jacklin.
These eight players parlayed best European newcomer into major championship glory.
Will 24-year-old Schmid join Kaymer on that list and win a major championship for Germany to go with Bernhard Langer and Sophia Popov’s success in the tournaments that matter?
Only time will tell.
Schmid will record a fine career even if he misses out on a major trophy but emulates other former European Tour rookie winners like Bernard Gallacher, Peter Oosterhuis, Sam Torrance, Mark James, Gordon Brand Jnr, Peter Baker, Colin Montgomerie, Paul Broadhurst, Thomas Bjorn, Ian Poulter and Paul Casey, to name a few. All have won multiple European Tour titles after being named best newcomer of the year.
Or will Schmid follow in the footsteps of those who never felt the thrill of a European Tour victory? As the list below shows, not everyone who enjoys a banner debut season goes on to greater glory. Some only spend a few seasons among Europe’s elite before discovering they were a mere flash in the pan.
Parkin is probably the biggest enigma on the above list. He’s another of those can’t miss kids who missed. Winner of the 1983 Amateur Championship, one of only three champions to win 36-hole qualifying and go on to lift the trophy – England’s Warren Bladon (1996) and Matteo Manassero (2009) are the others – Parkin finished 33rd and 37th respectively on the money list in 1985 and 1986.
The Welshman racked up nine career top 10s between 1985 and 1991, including a pair of seconds and thirds. He lost his card in 1991 and never regained it. The former Texas A&M University player seemed to have found his niche as an on course commentator for American television once his playing days were over, only to disappear off the golfing scene in the mid noughties never to be heard of again.
Parkin and others are proof that winning a trophy with maestro Henry Cotton’s name attached to it is no guarantee of success.
Whether we hear much from Schmid in the coming years remains to be seen. He certainly impressed in winning the silver medal as leading amateur in this year’s Open Championship at Royal St George's, the first German to earn the coveted award.
Three top 10s in 11 professional tournaments since The Open, including runner up in the Dutch Open, sealed the rookie award for the two-time European Amateur champion.
“The transition from amateur to professional golfer can be a daunting one at times and his Silver Medal award at the Open Championship could have increased the pressure on him, but he handled it incredibly and proved straight away that this is where he belongs,” said David Howell, chairman of the European Tour’s Tournament Committee.
“Matti clearly has a great golf game and a strong mentality to boot, so I have no doubt he will be a force to be reckoned with in the years to come. I look forward to seeing him out on Tour.”
Let’s hope so, and let’s hope he plays as much as possible in Europe.
Schmid spent four years playing American college golf at the University of Louisville. Considering the trend young players like Rahm, Viktor Hovland and others have set recently in preferring the riches on the PGA Tour and making occasional forays to Europe – albeit disappointingly not this year’s DP World Tour Championship, Dubai for Rahm and Hovland – it would be no surprise if Schmid jumped stateside as soon as possible.
#JustSaying: “It feels incredible to be named the Sir Henry Cotton Rookie of the Year for 2021. It was a very intense year, but I am delighted with my start to life as a professional,” Matti Schmid
Photo by Getty Images courtesy of the European Tour