07 Feb 2023

Matt Wallace – The Road to Rome

Matt Wallace reflects on the personal significance of Luke Donald selecting him for last month’s Hero Cup as he looks to replicate the fine from that saw him narrowly miss out on the 2018 Ryder Cup in a bid to make Rome 2023.

Back in 2018, Matt Wallace was playing some of the best golf of his life, with an intensity, passion and confidence that made him a surefire pick for Thomas Bjørn’s European Ryder Cup team at Le Golf National. 

Seven birdies in the last eight holes in the final round of the 2018 Made in Denmark saw the Englishman seal his third DP World Tour title of the year, his fourth in total. Despite that triumph coming just four days before Bjørn named his Captain’s Picks, Ryder Cup veterans Ian Poulter, Paul Casey, Henrik Stenson, and Sergio Garcia were the chosen four to join the Dane’s squad.

Having struggled to find the winning formula since then, Wallace will no doubt be hoping to replicate the golf that put him firmly in the picture in 2018 as he looks to play his way into Luke Donald’s European Ryder Cup team later this season.

“In tournament golf and getting the job done then yes,” replied Wallace when asked if that was the best golf of his career. “If you look back, my scoring was amazing in those areas where I needed it to get over the line and win a tournament. But I wouldn’t say it’s the best golf I’ve ever played – I feel like I’m getting to that point now.

“I’ve improved every single year, even though my scoring hasn’t been as good, but I’m getting better and hopefully I can build on the combination of scoring and playing well. You can play well and not score, it’s all about momentum. If I can put those together then I’ll be playing my best golf.”

Wallace is indeed already in the running this year for a maiden outing at the biennial showpiece, despite Rome 2023 being eight months away. That was evident when he received a call-up to last month’s Hero Cup contested by Great Britain & Ireland and Continental Europe at Abu Dhabi Golf Club. “It was mega for me to get the call from Luke to let me know I’d be playing in the Hero Cup,” he said.

“I hadn’t been playing how I wanted to, so that was big jolt for me to be a part of that. I was massively hoping I could be there, I wanted to play well enough to get in and Luke showed a lot of faith in me. After we spoke on the phone I told him and Tommy that I would be ready to go at Abu Dhabi Golf Club.”

That readiness to pay back the faith that Donald had shown him was on full display with Wallace banking 2.5 points from a possible four to help GB&I secure victory in the capital.

As well as leaving Abu Dhabi Golf Club with an all-important team event under his belt, the 32-year-old also picked up a bucket-load of inspiration from Ryder Cup greats of the past including Paul McGinley and José María Olazábal. The duo were on site to lend a helping hand after Donald called on the legends to inspire the next generation of European talent by sharing their cherished memories from golf’s greatest contest.

“That chat that we had…that’s why I play the game,” said Wallace, the day after the pair had joined the teams for dinner.

“I was so engaged, I wanted to learn more, listen more and for them to just speak the whole night. For anyone that thought the Hero Cup was just a showcase, it really wasn’t – it meant everything to me. It was the first team event I played as a professional and it was obviously a build up to the biggest tournament we can play in the form of the Ryder Cup.”

Another reason to be inspired for the 2023 season is the fact that Wallace received a major reprieve regarding his PGA Tour status at the back-end of last year.

After a disappointing season stateside, he ended the campaign ranked 136th which left him without his playing privileges for the 22- 23 season. But after Cameron Smith, Joaquin Niemann, Marc Leishman, Cameron Tringale, Harold Varner III and Anirban Lahiri hit their first tee shots at LIV Golf Boston the week after the Tour Championship, Wallace was one of the six to regain PGA Tour status.

With that in mind, Wallace is looking to take advantage of the blessing handed to him by the LIV Golf defectors.

“I’ll probably play a little bit more in America due to the schedule and World Ranking points,” he said.

“I’ve found it’s difficult to play both Tours right now, so I’ve spoken to the hierarchy at the top of the DP World Tour to somehow try and blend it where we can come back a little bit more and play both Tours. I want to support the DP World Tour as much as possible, it’s my home and where I started. But ultimately, you’ve got to be over in America at the moment.” Along with the new-found inspiration, Wallace will also have a new set of clubs in the bag during his road to Rome after deciding to part ways with Callaway.

Having left PING for the brand in 2020, the six-time Alps Tour champion has made the decision to follow in the footsteps of compatriot Matt Fitzpatrick in playing a mixed bag for the foreseeable future.

“I’ve decided to be a free agent and not sign with another manufacturer, so it’s nice to be able to pick and choose what I play with,” he said.

“It’s all about performance for me now, it’s not about signing any sort of monetary contract or being tied into anything. I’ve seen the likes of Matt Fitzpatrick and Adam Scott do it and I’ve never ventured down that route because I thought that signing with a manufacturer is great as they help you out a lot.

“Callaway were brilliant for me, they did everything they could but I just wanted to use a different combination. If I wanted to use Callaway clubs and a Titleist ball then there’s no real contract to be had there, so it was the best decision for me at this time. Who knows in the future what could happen, but right now I think this is going to be bring out the best in my game.

“I’ve currently got a Titleist driver and the Pro V1 19 ball which I last won with. Callaway from 3-wood to pitching wedge, Vokey wedges and a Scotty Cameron putter.”

The qualification process to make Donald’s team will not be an easy one, with a whole host of fresh faces vying to be in the locker room come September, but if Wallace is to recapture the form that saw him narrowly miss out in 2018 his Ryder Cup dream might just become a reality this time around.

Share this article
Swing Sequence

Wyndham Clark Swing Sequence

By Jonathan Craddock, PGA Professional, Pete Cowen Academy One of the...

Xander Schauffele swing sequence

By Jonathan Craddock, PGA Professional, Pete Cowen Academy Xander Schauffele has...

Related articles

Tiger Woods Golf Cart Rule Change For US Senior Open

Tiger Woods is reportedly in discussions to participate in the US...

Rory Returns for the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship

Rory McIlroy will return to Yas Links for the Abu Dhabi...

Upbeat McIlroy Ready for US Open After Marital Reconciliation

Rory McIlroy’s upbeat mindset ahead of this week’s US Open at...

U.S. Open Preview – Who will claim the year’s third Major?

The third Major of men’s schedule gets underway this month with...

Surviving Summer – How Courses Cope With The Heat

Words: Will Kent Photography: Provided by Stuart & Getty Images The...

Kiaan Keeps On Winning – UAE’s Latest Jnr Star

Photography & words by Will Kent Eight-year-old Kiaan Maharaj has become...