Matt Wal­lace

Fast-ris­ing English­man has his sights set on the top.

Golf World (UK) - - THE SPIN -

Two years ago, Matt Wal­lace was just an­other as­pir­ing tour pro sat way out­side the world top 1,000 and chas­ing his dreams on the third-tier Alps Tour. Today, he’s in­side the top 100 and em­bark­ing on his first full sea­son on the Euro­pean Tour thanks to vic­to­ries in last May’s Open de Por­tu­gal and last month’s In­dian Open. They are likely to be the first two of many.

It all started with a change of coach in De­cem­ber 2015. “I’d been work­ing re­ally hard but on the wrong things,” ad­mits Wal­lace, who turned pro in 2012 af­ter a year at Jack­sonville State Univer­sity in Amer­ica. “I went to Matt Belsham, who also coaches Alex Noren. He said, ‘You must be a re­ally good chip­per and put­ter be­cause your swing’s all over the place’. It was pretty much a com­plete over­haul of my swing and some­thing clicked in the third round of my first event.”

Wal­lace shot seven-un­der in that third and fi­nal round to fin­ish T3rd in the first event of the Alps Tour sea­son. He was run­ner-up the fol­low­ing week and won his first pro­fes­sional event the week af­ter that – the first of five Alps Tour wins in a row. That blis­ter­ing start to 2016 got him onto the Chal­lenge Tour. He notched two top 10s and a sin­gle MC in six starts be­fore win­ning the Alps Tour Grand Fi­nal for a sixth win and a dom­i­nat­ing Or­der of Merit tri­umph.

Wal­lace was get­ting peo­ple’s at­ten­tion, in­clud­ing su­per­a­gent Chubby Chan­dler, whose ISM com­pany now man­ages him. “I met Chubby dur­ing the BMW PGA in 2016 and he said, ‘you’re go­ing to be here play­ing next year’. I didn’t think I would be­cause I only had a cat­e­gory for Chal­lenge Tour at that time. But then I won in Por­tu­gal and two weeks later I was play­ing at Went­worth. He said, ‘Told you so’.

“I was al­ways com­fort­able when I was ahead on the Alps Tour. I’d think ‘I’m play­ing re­ally good golf so why can’t I go and win’. I’ve got that men­tal­ity of want­ing to ex­tend the lead when­ever I’m ahead. I’ve shown that I can win around the world – and win­ning is win­ning.”

The Open de Por­tu­gal vic­tory se­cured his Euro­pean Tour card and he went on to record four more top-10s and fin­ish 70th on the Race to Dubai. He also made his ma­jor de­but at last year’s US Open and changed coaches again last July. He’s now work­ing hard with Robert Rock and gain­ing con­fi­dence in the long game to match his stel­lar short game skills. A solid start to the year was fol­lowed by vic­tory at the In­dian Open in March.

So how far does Wal­lace think he can go? “This is my first full year on the Euro­pean Tour, so right now it’s about one week at a time and pick­ing up world rank­ing points. Chubby thinks ma­jors, and down the line I can see my­self hold­ing a big tro­phy – or even a jacket.”

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