When Matt Wallace tees up for his second DP World Tour Championship at Jumeirah Golf Estates on Thursday November 21, he will be looking to go one better than his brilliant debut outing last year where the Englishman finished runner-up to Danny Willett over the iconic Earth course.
“I went out there with no real expectations, not knowing the course having never played it before and having never really practiced up there,” said Wallace. “It’s a brilliant course which tests every aspect of your game. I drove the ball really well that week so I know that I need to stay on top of that, and if I can do that hopefully I can go one better than last year.”
Wallace was in the thick of the action right until the very end 12 months ago, almost chipping in for an eagle at the final hole before Willett closed the door with a superb birdie on the 17th, ‘island hole’.
“I have good and bad memories of the Earth course,” he said. “Obviously, on 17 last year Danny stuck a dagger in my heart, hitting, what was for me, the shot of the year, to make birdie. That hole is iconic, the perfectly situated challenge as the penultimate test. Then there’s the 18th where anything can happen with that second shot up into the final green – and I nearly produced my own little bit of glory there when I almost chipped in. I thought it was going in and an eagle would have been a nice way to finish – but it just wasn’t to be.”
Despite only playing the Earth course for the first time in 2018, the 29 year old has plenty of knowledge of playing the emirate, having taken advantage of the ideal weather conditions in preparation for the season early in his career.
“Dubai has always been very kind to me because I’ve put in a lot of practice out here, back when I was on the Alps Tour, and then on to the Challenge Tour at the start of the season,” he said. “Just knowing that I can plan my weeks ahead for practice, and I can rely on the weather to be the same as it is when a tournament comes around is a huge help.
“Getting up in the morning and knowing that I can wear shorts on the practice days is a nice feeling. You get the sun on your back and the golf courses are always in great condition – what’s not to like about it?”
With three European Tour wins to his name last season, Wallace is yet to secure a title under his belt this year but has enjoyed a stellar season which has seen him finish in the top ten seven times including a runner-up finish at the Omega Dubai Desert Classic, and he is relishing the prospect of another tilt at the DP World Tour Championship title.
“Playing the DP World Tour Championship for the first time last year – I felt that I had made it there on merit and that felt good,” he said. “It’s a condensed field with the best players in the world competing and I enjoyed the success, which pushed me into the top-ten in the Race to Dubai. So, my goal this year is to try and beat last year’s performance and I’m in a good position to do just that. It’s a brilliant golf course, brilliant event and I’m very much looking forward to getting back there this year.”
The top 50 players in the Race to Dubai Rankings will contest the season-ending US$8 million DP World Tour Championship at Jumeirah Golf Estates in Dubai from November 21-24 where US$3 million will be up for grabs for the winner, making it the richest first prize in world tournament golf.
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