Austria’s top golfer, Sepp Straka, has returned to Oberfaltersdorf, where he once learned the game, ahead of his Ryder Cup debut. He would like to play doubles with Viktor Hovland in Rome, but he is still very nervous.
Sepp Straka will address the next event in his career as a golf professional next week with the Ryder Cup in Rome. Before that, the Vienna native was on a visit to his home country and spoke about the European rivalry with the USA at a media event at Fontana Golf Club on Friday. “I think we’ll win. We’re all in very good shape,” Straka said optimistically. The reception in the team from Rory McIlroy, Jon Rahm and company has been very good. “Us rookies have been received really well.”
The 30-year-old admitted he was very nervous ahead of his Ryder Cup debut. “He’s already here. But on Friday on the first tee there will be a whole new level, which I can’t even imagine. I’ve heard stories from others. Thank God you used driver on the first hole, big face,” Straka said with a smile.
He is expected to rank 22nd globally. It has already been used in even pairs on Friday and Saturday. Who in the team of twelve would you like to play with? “Viktor (Hovland, note) is playing the ball very well at the moment,” Straka said of the Norwegian, who recently won the PGA Tour Final in Atlanta.
Always only for Austria
The fact that Straka, who lives in America, might play for the United States team was never a problem. There was no communication either. “I’ve always played golf for Austria and I’ve always been very proud to see the Austrian flag on the leaderboard,” said the two-time PGA Championship winner, who has dual citizenship and whose mother is American like his wife. For this reason he does not expect any national tensions in Rome, and his bearer in the United States is already singing “Oli Oli, I think everyone supports Europe.”
It wasn’t always this way: Straka learned his first swing at the Fontana Golf Club in Oberfaltersdorf. With his parents in attendance, the golf pro recalled that there had always been a family Ryder Cup played here. “My mother always stood with America.” It was not expected at that time that he himself would one day represent Europe at the highest level. “I always thought the Family Ryder Cup was over.” The Austrian even puts the fact that he is now in Rome ahead of his second-place finish at the British Open in July.
The fact that Straka has remained humble is shown not only by the fact that he played a round in Fontana on Friday morning with his first coach, Claude Grenier, but also by his priorities at home. “The most important thing is always the food when I come to Vienna. I eat a lot of schnitzels.” So it’s no surprise that the 30-year-old says: “I still feel very Austrian” after such a long time in the United States. By the way, his favorite football player in this country is Marko Arnautović, but his idol is Tiger Woods.
And emotion? Does he appear to them?
After that, the family will go to Rome, where a busy program with team training and plenty of appointments awaits us from next week. Straka and Co can be sure of the crowd’s support, even if the Vienna player is quieter on the pitch. “Jon Rahm is very emotional, and he will. I’m not a big fist bumper, but let’s see. They always say the Ryder Cup gives you a lot.”
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