DUBAI: This season's triple European Tour winning Matt Wallace scored an excellent bogey-free 65 at the DP World Tour Championship in Dubai on Friday to lead the season-ending tournament going into today’s third round.
The Englishman is seeking a fourth European Tour title of the season — a win that would make him the 14th player to win four times or more in a season, and the first since Alex Noren in 2016 — but faces stiff competition from the field.
Fellow Englishman Danny Willett shot a 67 to sit in second place at ten-under alongside first-round leaders Adrian Otaegui and Jordan Smith.
Meanwhile, in the battle to finish the season as Europe's No. 1, Tommy Fleetwood on eight-under needs to win in Dubai this weekend to have any chance of successfully defending his Race to Dubai title and stop the Francesco Molinari procession, and hope that Molinari finishes outside the top-five.
Wallace, though, was in confident mood.
“All aspects of my game are good at the moment,” he said.
“I feel really comfortable out there, the putter is helping me and I’m holing a lot out there. I really love this golf course and I love this tournament.
“It was massively important to me to get off to a good start, and I really had to focus in on that first putt. When you have a 25-footer on the first hole, you want to get the pace right, but I really wanted to hole it and I managed to pour it in there, and that got me going,” he added.
“It is all coming together, unfortunately at the end of the season, I do wish I had done this from the start. “But, recently I’ve lowered my expectation levels, and that has really helped me this week. I am going to keep doing that for the rest of the weekend, and let my golf do the talking.
“That's up there with one of the best this year,” he said.
“I'm playing with freedom now and trying to place as high as I possibly can come the back nine holes on Sunday and then that's when I normally will try and kick in and want to win a tournament, depending on where I am.
“I've been in this situation before, just not in this sort of tournament. The best players are out there in the world and I just want to compete and see where my game is at against them."
Wallace also had to face being given a £3,000 ($3,860) “slow play” fine on his debut in Dubai on Thursday.
According to match referees, Wallace took too long to putt out for A par on the ninth hole, after being timed during his seventh and eighth birdie holes.
"The good thing, I guess, I paid for the fine in holing the second putt,” he said.
“Though, it was frustrating and it kind of put me out of flow for the next three to four holes.
“The thing is I don’t consider myself to be a slow player as evident in playing the three holes (7 to 9) in two-under so I saved time playing good golf.
“Hopefully, I can make up the fine by the end of this week.”