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