Dubai, Nov 18: With a high-quality field hot on his heels, Matt Wallace may or may not win the year-ending DP World Tour Championships, but he did produce a round that looked like heaven on earth. The 33-year-old Englishman shot a sensational 12-under 60 on the penultimate day of the season.
Wallace birdied every hole on the back nine of the Earth Course at the Jumeirah Golf Estates. His nine birdies in a row, 12 birdies in a round and the nine-hole score of 27 all match DP World Tour bests but will not go in the record books due to preferred lies being in place. Yet it was remarkable achievement.
Wallace’s round of 60 alongside 72-68 on the first two days gave him a 16-under total for 54 holes. He was being chased by Viktor Hovland (66) and Tommy Fleetwood (66), who despite superb rounds found themselves one shot adrift at 15-under.
Overnight leader Nicolai Hojgaard wobbled on the back nine with bogey-bogey finish for a 70 and slipped to Tied-fifth at 13-under alongside Ewen Ferguson (64), while Jeff Winther (64) was sole fourth at 14-under, having finished with an eagle.
Wallace needed an eagle on the Par-5 18th for the ‘magical 59’ but admitted he did not realise it. At 11-under through 17 he almost holed his third shot from the greenside bunker. After his shot went past the cup, his playing partner, Dan Bradbury, told him that his ‘third shot was for a 59.’
Wallace did manage a birdie for a 60 that catapulted him to the very top. Starting the day with the goal of getting back into the tournament, he is now 18 holes away from a win that seemed unlikely two weeks.
Wallace came into the event as one of the stragglers in the 48th place – only the top 50 make it to the year-ending Tour Championships. Wallace’s final day bogey-free 67 for T-15 at Nedbank Challenge last week helped him get in.
A beaming Wallace said, “”What a day, an amazing day. I just tried my hardest to get myself back into the tournament. I’m really happy that I’ve been able to do that. Played great.
“At the end, I didn’t even think there was a 59. Honestly I think it helped me a little bit. I just played nicely coming down the stretch, just keep getting one more if I could and I managed to do that.
“Kind of gutted now actually a little bit. Great opportunity to do it. I’ve done it at Moorpark on the West Course, which is only a par 68, but to do it (shoot 59) out there would have been really special today.
“Ball in hand (preferred lies) helps. I had a couple good lies for up-and-down, but it was fantastic and a good effort for 59.”
When Wallace finished, it seemed he would be joined by any of the numerous players behind him. But none did.
Tommy Fleetwood (66), who reached 16-under with a birdie on the 16th messed up 17th to drop a shot and then failed to get a birdie on 18th. He finished at 15-under, which is where Viktor Hovland (66) ended after failing to pick a birdie on 18th.
Wallace, who won his maiden PGA Tour title this year, has now won on the DP World Tour since 2018, the year he won three times including the Hero Indian Open, the BMW International in Munich and the Made in Denmark.
Wallace was T7 at Valspar on the PGA and the following week he won the Corales Puntacana Championship in the Dominican Republic, an event held opposite to the WGC-Dell Championships that week.
He did not make it to the FedExCup play-offs and in August he shifted his focus back to the DP World Tour with the Czech Masters, where he finished second. Even after a Top-10 finish at the Dunhill Links he was out of Top-50, but T-9 at the Qatar Masters and a T-15 at Nedbank Challenge last week got him a spot this week. He is now making it count.
Hovland called his 66 as ‘pretty solid’. He said, “Felt like I almost played a little bit better than yesterday. Gave myself a lot of looks. Didn’t necessarily feel like I made a lot of putts. It was very close to the edges but it was very solid so hopefully tomorrow they drop in.”
On Wallace’s 60, he exclaimed, “Oh, really? That’s ridiculous. You know, it played easier today, not a lot of wind. Greens were soft. But the greens are very grainy. It’s hard to make putts. On some of the pin locations, like 17, for example, I don’t know, that’s a tough one to get close to. So there is a lot of good pins. And yeah, I mean, 60 out here, that’s ridiculous.”
Talking of his chances of adding the DP World Tour Championships to the TOUR Championship on the PGA Tour, he said, “It would be really cool. It’s been a crazy year. You know kind of feels like it has been the off-season. I have had six weeks off. This is another big one and would be really nice to have on the resumé and I feel like I’m playing some good golf.”