Schauman off to one of golf’s most prestigious tournaments

Matt Perkins

A rock climber has Mount Everest. A cyclist has the Tour de France. And former Gophers golfer Wilhelm Schauman has the British Open.

Schauman will tee off Thursday in the 2005 British Open at St. Andrews Old Course in Scotland, the most prestigious tournament in Europe.

“Everyone in the field goes up to the first tee box thinking they have a shot at winning the tournament, and Wilhelm shouldn’t be thinking any different,” Minnesota men’s golf coach Brad James said. “But no matter what the result, it’s going to be the experience that matters most to him.”

It was the experience of playing at Minnesota that has prepared Schauman for this moment, and he is not the only recent Gophers star to have success at the professional level.

Two of Schauman’s teammates from the Gophers’ 2002 national championship team – Simon Nash and Justin Smith – are going through similar experiences, though neither has qualified for anything comparable to the British Open.

Smith, a colleague of Schauman’s on the Hooters Tour, said he can’t wait to see what happens at the British Open.

“I was thrilled for him when I heard he made it,” Smith said. “I think that he has a great mindset to go in there, not being known. I have a feeling he is going to do really well.”

Smith said the experience he and Schauman got from the 2002 season, and specifically the national recognition, paved the way for the start of their professional careers. And what made the difference was the fact that they didn’t reflect on their collegiate glory, but instead focused their attention on continuing their success.

“It’s like a ladder – you always start at the bottom, no matter how good you are, at each level,” Smith said. “Through experience and hard work, you work your way up to the top.”

And the Swedish Schauman has reached the peak of his Everest, the final leg of his Tour de France, because to play in the British Open is the dream of many European golfers.

Schauman, who is practicing in Europe and could not be reached for comment, recently snuck into the top 100 on the Hooters Tour money list, earning more than $5,000 so far this year.

But Smith said Schauman is done playing on the Hooters Tour, instead choosing to play in Europe for a little while.

Smith, who won the Player’s Turf Classic in May, said it’s hard to get that first tournament win under one’s belt, especially if that tournament is being played at St. Andrews.

The Old Course at St. Andrews is known for being particularly tricky because it is played out of usual order. Starting at the tee of hole No. 1, players then drive toward the 17th green, then tee from the 17th and hit toward the 16th green, and so on.

“It’s like the home of golf,” Gophers golfer Bronson La’Cassie said. “Not just for European golfers, but for everyone, it’s probably the most prestigious event you can win. I mean, that’s huge to play in that.”