Matthias Schwab brushes off US PGA setback to make flying start at The Belfry

Austria’s Matthias Schwab insisted he had no complaints about missing out on a place in the year’s second major after setting the early pace in the Betfred British Masters.

Schwab carded seven birdies and a single bogey in an opening six-under-par 66 at The Belfry, with Scotland’s Calum Hill a shot behind.

World number 45 Robert MacIntyre, the top ranked player in the field, was five shots off the lead following a 71, but playing partner and two-time major winner Martin Kaymer struggled to a 74.

MacIntyre and Kaymer will both travel to Kiawah Island for next week’s US PGA Championship, but Schwab is set to miss out due to the vagaries of the qualifying criteria.

The PGA of America usually invites all players ranked inside the world’s top 100, with more added if necessary to complete the field.

Twelve players outside the top 100 on May 9 were given invitations and 10 of those were ranked between 101 and 122, but world number 113 Schwab was overlooked.

Matthias Schwab
Austria’s Matthias Schwab on the fift fairway during day one of the Betfred British Masters at The Belfry (Tim Goode/PA)

“I have no idea where I am on the alternate list. They don’t really communicate anything,” Schwab told the PA news agency.

“But I should have played better the last few weeks and that would have taken care of it. If I get in by Friday or Saturday I would love to play in it, but I wouldn’t travel as an alternate.

“I’m focused on the European Tour and there’s no guarantee, even if you play, that will earn ranking points.”

Robert MacIntyre
Scotland’s Robert MacIntyre on the sixth tee during day one of the Betfred British Masters at The Belfry (Tim Goode/PA)

MacIntyre took several weeks off after a successful spell in the United States, which included a tie for 12th on his Masters debut to secure a return to Augusta National next April.

“It was a bit of a struggle, I didn’t play great,” the left-hander admitted after a round containing two birdies and one bogey. “I’m delighted to walk off there one under par.

“I found in the States I couldn’t stop the ball on firm greens, so I’ve got a whole new set of irons in the bag this week and we’re seeing a big improvement in the dispersion of distance.”