PLAY-Matt-Wallace

Local golfer Matt Wallace rubs shoulders with Lee Westwood

Moor Park golfer Matt Wallace was unable to build on a stunning first round at his maiden European Tour event in Sweden, eventually finishing tied for 53rd, but relished rubbing shoulders with the likes of Lee Westwood.

The 26-year-old has been untouchable on the Alps Tour, a third-tier feeder tour to the European Tour and Challenge Tour, becoming the first person to win four consecutive events. Wallace is all but guaranteed full playing rights for the Challenge Tour next season and has been seeking invites for European and Challenge Tour events in order to test himself at a higher level.

Having been invited to the Nordea Masters in Sweden last Monday the Pinner-based putter looked set to continue his remarkable hot streak. Wallace was tied for seventh at the end of the first round after shooting an impressive four under, leaving him level with eventual winner Matthew Fitzpatrick and Englishmen Lee Westwood and Ross Fisher. He was two under in the second but things went downhill from there. He was four over in the third and eight over in the final round to finish six over for the tournament.

“I felt great,” said Wallace. “I was playing nicely and the atmosphere and condition of the course were just amazing. I was playing great and I saw on the leaderboard when I had a ten-foot putt for a birdie that Lee Westwood was on -4 and I had the shot to tie his score which was really cool. Lee is someone who I watch on TV and kind of admire as a professional. I was happy with my first round score to be in a tie for seventh but only one shot back of the leaders.”

After a flying start in round one and a good second round, things started to unravel for Wallace, something he isn’t used to after four consecutive victories on the Alps Tour. He knows what the problem was, though. “I played nicely on day two but then it got progressively worse as the week went on,” he said. “I played awfully at the weekend. I think I hit eight greens in 36 holes and I didn’t putt great. After the event I realised what the difference between the Alps Tour and European Tour is – it’s the depth of players and how good they are when they aren’t playing their best. In an Alps Tour event I may have not been the leader after day one but I would have been in the top two or three with my score.”

Wallace has already secured another European Tour invite and on Monday flew out to Austria for the Lyoness Open which gets underway today. He will, therefore, miss the St Malo Golf Open in France. But with nearly twice as many points as Franck Daux, the man second on the Order of Merit, he is in no rush to return to the Alps Tour. “I’m not sure what is next on the agenda,” admitted Wallace. “I am looking forward to trying to play well this week. I will eventually play another Alps Tour event and I will prepare to win.”

Meanwhile, Moor Park clubmate and Bushey golfer Callum Shinkwin tied for 48th. He was three under on the first day but slipped away, finishing five over.