Matt Wallace leads DP World Tour Championship with a record-breaking round of 60… after consecutive birdies on closing nine holes propels him to one stroke ahead of competitors Tommy Fleetwood and Viktor Hovland
- Matt Wallace secures place in DP World Tour Championship by slim margins
- Tommy Fleetwood is one stroke behind Wallace after his record-breaking round
- Wallace secured nine consecutive birdies to secure his place in final nine holes
Consider the Earth Course scorched. Matt Wallace only made it into the 50-man field for the DP World Tour Championship by the slenderest of margins, but he carded the round of a lifetime on Saturday to lead the race for the £2.5million prize in Dubai.
The story of the Englishman’s extraordinary loop could be told be in two parts – the steady progress of going three under through his opening nine and then the sort of inward journey that broke records and defied belief.
With birdies on every single one of those closing nine holes, he made it in for just 27 strokes and signed for a 60 that left him 16 under par for the tournament and one clear of Tommy Fleetwood and Viktor Hovland.
To contextualise what his numbers meant, he became the first man in DP World Tour history to clean sweep an entire half of the card, and the nine straight birdies also levelled the record set by James Nitties of Australia in the 2019 Vic Open. It might have even dipped into a 59 had his bunker shot at the last dropped below ground instead of burning the edge of the hole.
‘What an amazing day,’ the 33-year-old said. ‘I just tried my hardest to get myself back into the tournament, so I’m really happy I’ve been able to do that and played great.
With birdies on every single one of those closing nine holes, he made it in for just 27 strokes and signed for a 60 that left him 16 under par for the tournament
Tommy Fleetwood of England tees off on the 18th hole during Day Three of the tournament
‘At the end there, I didn’t even think it was for a 59, honestly. I’m kind of gutted now actually a little bit. It was a great opportunity to do it. But it was fantastic and a good effort.’
One of golf’s more temperamental talents, this was a bogey-free round that showcased only the best of Wallace, who earlier this year added a maiden PGA Tour title to four won on the European circuit.
His day could best be summarised by the quality of his iron play in the final seven holes – not one of those shots left him with a putt beyond 6ft, which is impressive considering four of them were fired at the green from 170 yards or more.
For Wallace, it is shaping into a fine finale to the season, having nearly lost his DP World Tour card in the summer after ploughing most of his efforts into the PGA Tour. Indeed, his qualification for this 50-man event was only secured with a big final round last weekend in South Africa.
Now he leads a stellar field, with Fleetwood well placed after a second successive 66. With Everton manager Sean Dyche watching him, Fleetwood, from Southport, made a storming start, carding five birdies in seven holes and an eagle at the 14th. Bogeys at 12 and 17 would ultimately cost him a share of the lead.
Jon Rahm is ominously positioned five off the lead on 11 under after a 67, while Rory McIlroy improved dramatically on opening rounds of 71 and 72 by shooting 65. He now stands at eight under after rolling in from off the green for an eagle at 18.
He said: ‘I haven’t done much at all after the Ryder Cup. I tried to put in a little bit of practise over the last couple of weeks but I jammed my wrist a couple weeks ago and that sort of limited how many balls I hit, too. I came in not as prepared as I could have been or should have been, but I feel like I’m starting to find my feet a little bit after a few days.’
The DP World Tour Championship is taking place at the Earth Course in Jumeirah, Dubai
Viktor Hovland of Norway plays a shot on the 18th green during the round three
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