Thomas Gottstein: "It was overwhelming."
Since 1984, Credit Suisse has been a major partner of the OMEGA European Masters. Thomas Gottstein, CEO of the Swiss Universal Bank of Credit Suisse talks about his personal anniversary, his role as host, and his favorites.
Mr. Gottstein, we want to congratulate you on your anniversary. In 1986, 30 years ago, you played in the European Masters for the first time.
Thank you very much. It's amazing how time flies. In 1986, the world was a completely different place. No internet and no cell phones. And Jason Day, currently the number one in golf, wasn't even been born.
At that time, you were playing as one of Switzerland's best amateurs. What was that experience like for you?
It was overwhelming. The entire atmosphere, the high-caliber playing field, and, of course, this fantastic golf course which is definitely the most beautiful course in the Alps. As a competitor, I learned some things the hard way. In those days, we still played on the old “Plan-Bramois” course, and I became well acquainted with its pitfalls.
Do you still know who won back then?
It was no less than the legendary José Maria Olazábal. He was one of golfing's greats. If I remember correctly, it was even his first title on the European Tour. So, it's not exaggerating to say that the European Masters laid the foundation of his international career.
You had a successful career with Credit Suisse, which has been a sponsor of the European Masters since 1984.
And I am very proud of that. It is our oldest partnership in the sports area. We see this commitment as a commitment to Switzerland. The strong Swiss home market is an important pillar of Credit Suisse's business model, and it will grow in importance in the future. As the first bank for entrepreneurs in Switzerland, founded by Alfred Escher, we still feel a strong connection to that heritage.
As the host of this year's Credit Suisse Gold Pro-Am, will you be playing in the tournament this year?
Of course! There is no way I pass up on this kind of opportunity. It is the most attractive pro-am tournament in Switzerland and an once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to thank our long-term business partners and clients for the trust they place in us.
The lineup of pros this year is once again filled with top players. Who will win the OMEGA European Masters title in 2016?
Good question. I think the winner will be from the generation of young guns. Defending champion Danny Willett and Matthew Fitzpatrick are top contenders. But personally, I am also looking forward to seeing legends like Lee Westwood and Miguel Ángel Jiménez in action. Anyone who can play for such a long time at such a high level as those two has earned my utmost respect.