Why Tour winner docked himself 4 and 3 strokes before his Mexico Open rounds

Matt Wallace

Matt Wallace hits his tee shot on Friday on the 3rd hole.

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Matt Wallace had a Thursday problem. And a Friday affinity. He was stuck. So the pro with the Thursday problem and the Friday affinity did something any wise person with a Thursday problem and a Friday affinity would do. 

He punted on Thursday. 

He went right to Friday. 

And just like that, his week looks promising. Through two days in heavenly Vidanta, Mexico, Wallace is your 36-hole Mexico Open leader.  

“Good focus, good determination,” Wallace said, “and yeah, happy with the score.”

How the 33-year-old Englishman arrived at this point will require a quick examination into the mental gymnastics we sometimes play. Along with a bit of math.  

Wallace, for whatever reason, said he’d been struggling of late during Thursday opening rounds. He’s not lying. Two weeks ago, at the WM Phoenix Open, he shot a 75. Two weeks before that, at the Farmers Insurance Open, he shot a 73. He said he got angered. 

He also said he then got in gear. The next day at the Phoenix Open? Wallace fired a 64. The next day at the Farmers? He fired a 70. 

Here, Wallace, a four-time DP World Tour winner and one-time PGA Tour winner, and caddie Jamie Lane started to think. 

What if they tricked themselves? What if they were already down strokes to start a tournament, instead of after one day? They’d get fired up — from the opening bell. Couldn’t hurt. They would take it seriously, too. 

So Thursday, during the Mexico Open first round, Wallace believed he stood on the first hole — at four-over. 

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He birdied that hole, so he was three-over. Bogeyed the fourth, so he was back to four-over. Birdied 6, 7 and 9 and bogeyed 10, so he was two-over. Birdied 15, 16 and 18, putting him at a decent one-under. 

Only, yeah, he had actually shot a five-under. 

“Yesterday obviously in the afternoon Jamie came up with — well, basically we started tournaments pretty poorly this year,” Wallace said Friday, “and it’s kind of been like, OK, we’ll see how it goes to start the tournament on Thursday. We find ourselves behind the 8-ball and then we’ve played really well on Fridays because we’ve been determined to get the score back. 

“So we kind of came up with a system of starting over par so we’ve already played one round, right? To make the cut, you’ve got to get yourself into it. So yesterday was four-over and we managed to shoot one-under, which is five-under.”

Would they do it again during Friday’s second round?

Absolutely. This time, Wallace believed he was three-over. Starting on the back nine, he bogeyed the 10th hole, so he was four-over. He birdied 12 and 14, bogeyed 15 and birdied 18, so he was two-over. His final nine holes were special. He birdied 2, 5 and 7 and eagled 6, so he was three-under. 

But really six-under. 

And tied for the lead going into the weekend with three others. 

“It’s not nice standing on that 10th tee three-over already,” Wallace said. “Then I bogeyed it, so I was four-over so I had to get it back. 

“That sort of determination and focus really helped.”


Notably, Wallace said he didn’t have a number in mind yet for Saturday or Sunday. Player and caddie will check the leaderboard first. The pins and the wind, too. 

But yeah, in his head, Wallace will again be over par before he even swings the club. 

“It’s just something to really focus me at the start of the day,” he said, “rather than be joint leader or behind by two, whatever it may be.”

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