The Ryder Cup is always on Matt Wallace’s mind – even after a gruelling 36-hole day in Final Open Qualifying where ranking points aren’t up for grabs.
The Englishman passed the test at West Lancashire with flying colours, but his performance at The Open and on the sports’ biggest stages is what he believes will get him noticed by European captain Luke Donald.
He was in contention for a pick in 2018 when he finished in the top 16 of the European and World Points Lists, but Thomas Bjorn opted for experience in Henrik Stenson, Sergio Garcia, Paul Casey and Ian Poulter.
Having won four times in Europe and now broken his duck in America, Wallace has exhausted every approach to Ryder Cup qualification there is in hoping 2023 will finally be his year.
“Missed cuts, good performances. It’s always on your mind, but I’m ugly and old enough now that this is my third time going at it, so I just want to play well and make it,” he said.
“I have tried so many ways to not think about it and be selfish. Don’t even think about it, go out and play and do my own thing because that will take care of everything else.
“But I do that anyway, I play for myself anyway when we’re playing tournaments, but I want to make it and I don’t want to shy away from that. It’s a driver when I’m not playing well, or it’s a driver when I’m in 50th place.
“What if it comes down to a couple of points at the end of the season? Who knows? I might be automatic or not automatic and relying on a pick.
“It gives me a little bit of a booster when things aren’t going well, and it gives me a kick up the backside.”
Wallace secured his first PGA Tour victory at the Corales Puntacana Championship in March, but six missed cuts and no top-10s have followed.
Rounds of 68 and 65 at West Lancs represented a much-needed return to form, and he’ll tee it up at The Open next week for the first time since coming tied for 40th at Royal St. George’s in 2021.
He moved into the top 120 on the FedEx Cup points list after last year’s Tour Championship, which earned him a card on the PGA Tour in 2023 – and Wallace has learned how tough it is to compete in the States compared with his days on the DP World Tour.
“It’s harder over there,” Wallace said. “The standard of golf over there is unbelievable, the last two cuts have been 4-under.
“I kid you not, I’m a decent golfer, but if you shoot 3-under and 3-under, and you’re going home, you’re like ‘oh my goodness, this job is so hard’.
“Whereas it’s a little bit different on the European Tour. The standard is just slightly higher in America and the best players are over there as well.”
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