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Wallace breaks course record at The International
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Wallace breaks course record at The International

Matt Wallace surged into contention with a brilliant course record of 63 to earn the clubhouse lead at the KLM Open.

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The four time European Tour winner squeezed into the weekend at two under par, but soared to the top of the leaderboard by Saturday afternoon courtesy of ten birdies and one dropped shot in his third round at The International.

Wallace looked set for an early flight home after a first round of three over par but turned it around with a five under 67 on Friday to make the cut mark in Amsterdam.

And he got the third round off to a lightning start with six birdies on the front nine and, despite a bogey at the tenth, picked up further shots at the 12th, 13th 15th and last to set the target at 11 under for the tournament.

“Hopefully right in there,” Wallace said. “The first day was windy and I didn’t play very well at all, been working on a few things on my swings and I finished with three over, which wasn’t very satisfying, and didn’t putt very well.

“Did some work on the putting green afterwards and then started holing some putts yesterday, which was nice.

“I started playing a little bit better and went out there this morning with no wind and hit a great tee shot at the first and thought ‘Oh okay, that’s a bit different’ and stuck with my swing thoughts, my feels and gave myself a lot of chances and rolled them in today.

“Could have been better but it was one of those days where every single hole I felt I could have birdied.”

Wallace won his four European Tour titles in a 15 month period, but has not been able to add number five since the Made In Denmark last year.

However, he is confident he will be in the mix sooner rather than later, with a home tournament next up at the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth.

“If I’m being brutally honest, there is still a lot of room for improvement but this game is all about scoring,” Wallace said.

“I don’t care how I get it done, I just want to shoot low so I will do a bit more work this afternoon, but it is real good progress, real good time to start playing well especially with next week.

“I’m looking forward to next week already, but that kind of pushes me forward and gives me a lot of confidence knowing that I can shoot low. 

“I haven’t done that in a while and it’s still in there somewhere. But nine under is a nice score.”

Wallace also has a new man on the bag this week following his split with long term caddie Dave McNeilly last month.

McNeilly and Wallace had been together since 2017 and enjoyed all four European Tour victories together but the Englishman has turned to Jonathan Smart, who helped Danny Willett become 2016 Masters Tournament champion.

“I mean Dave was brilliant," Wallace said. "I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for him helping me get to this position but I felt that I needed something new, a new challenge and Smartie became available and we feed off each other really well.

“Crans wasn’t so good but we then flew straight to Wentworth and did some work at the weekend so we felt like we played the weekend by doing a lot of work and getting some stuff done.

“We had another week of practice and came here feeling really good and then shot a 75 on the first day and go ‘Oh wow!’.

“But we stuck with it yesterday which was important and then today. Hopefully we are moving forward and give ourselves a chance (to win) if the weather picks up a little bit, but it might be too far ahead as it’s playing quite nice out there.”

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