Bernd Wiesberger is already the most successful Austrian golfer in history. But he wants more. The 34-year-old Viennese is targeting a place in European Ryder Cup 2020 captain Padraig Harrington’s final selection.
October’s Italian Open win was his seventh win on the European Tour and although he has yet to finish in the top 10 at a major event, Wiesberger had something of an Indian summer.
That was his third success of the calendar year in 2019, following two Rolex event victories at the Made in Denmark event in May and then the Scottish Open in July.
Wiesberger’s 16th-place finish at the US Open in 2017 suggests that there is the potential of him challenging for a major if he can put everything together over four consistent days. We won’t be surprised if the Austrian achieves it…
RSNG How do you view golf? BERND WIESBERGER, AUSTRIA’S RYDER CUP HOPEFUL ‘I believe that golf is one of those sports which possesses both the best and perhaps the bad times in life. What I mean by that is that you can feel both the highest highs and you can hit rock bottom, depending on how you play. You can love the game when you are playing well, and everything is going right.’
‘However, if things aren’t going so great, you may never want to look at another golf club again! You can play the game like it’s a hobby, of course; but once you go above and beyond that and it becomes your main source of income and your career – your whole life – then, sometimes you can have both of those feelings in the same day, haha!’
RSNG That can happen to anyone, can’t it! Literally the best player of his generation, Tiger Woods, has had highs and lows through his career and individual rounds? BW ‘Many of us have been there at some point in time and it takes a strong character to climb back from adversity and do what Tiger has done.’
‘I would say Tiger has always had that in his make-up. I have had to really work at it over the years.’
‘Now, the aim is to have more highs and good times and learn from the situations where things haven’t been as smooth as I would like. The aim is to try to make sure that next time I go out there I put things right and am able to play more consistently. That’s my aim, anyway.’
Being a professional golfer means you don’t wake up very early in the morning and feel like it’s a chore – it’s work you enjoy
RSNG How do you improve and learn from those situations to become a better player? BW ‘Well, first of all it certainly involves a lot of hard work, but you cannot just make it all about the determination, the will to win and everything behind trying to be successful. There has to be an element of fun when you’re doing anything as a career or it will quickly get tiresome.’
‘The fact that I love the ebb and flow of golf, the ups and the downs and the whole life of being a professional golfer from week to week, travelling to new places every week and seeing familiar faces around these great places that we are fortunate to visit during the golfing calendar, makes you want to achieve so that you can keep having those experiences.’
‘When things are fun and you enjoy what you do, then the hard work becomes a routine and once you can see the signs that you are improving, you are learning and you are finishing higher and higher up the leaderboard over the course of the season, that’s where the fun is. Being a professional golfer means you don’t wake up very early in the morning and feel like it’s a chore – it’s work you enjoy.
Behind every shot are one thousand practice swings and trial and error to get to that one shot in that particular situation
RSNG What we see on the course is the result of all of those thousands of hours of practice? BW ‘Yes! Behind every shot is one thousand practice swings and the trial and error of what made it possible for me to get to that one shot in that particular situation. But it’s not just the work on the range with the clubs and balls that you have to do.’
‘There’s the gym exercises with stretches, weight-training, stamina work – because you’re playing anything from 60-80 shots in one round – walking anywhere from 3-6 miles each 18 holes you play, depending on how your shots go, haha! You need to be swinging the right way and right amount for every shot you play.’
‘Then, there’s the mental side where you are making sure you don’t lose your composure or concentration during rounds, regardless of how you are playing. The prep work you do either on your own or with your caddie to play the course that week, the next day, different pin positions each day, etc.’
‘It’s literally a complex game with great rewards if you solve the problems and questions you are posed.’
RSNG Is the Ryder Cup an aim for you? BW ‘For sure. I feel like I am playing some of the best golf in my career, now. Going into my mid-30s, I am looking to be more consistent and really show what I can do.’
‘After the injury to my wrist set me back, I was able to give a glimpse of what I am capable of by winning the Italian Open towards the end of the season in 2019.’
‘Now, I need to show the consistency for Padraig. Obviously it would be my first time playing for Team Europe and I would say it would be my biggest achievement to date, but that’s what we set out to do as golfers… make our dreams real.’
WHAT NEXT? Read our exclusive interview with Brit Augusta winner Danny Willet, here.
And, Bernd Wiesberger chips in for an eagle.