‘If I don’t have to come here, I wouldn’t’: PGA Tour pro erupts at course
“I don’t like this golf course.”
“… It’s just not fun to play.”
“Like, it’s just not great.”
“… It’s too severe, so they need to do something about it.”
“… If I don’t have to come here, I wouldn’t, but I kind of need to.”
“I just think the penalty is just really, really severe … ”
No, Matt Wallace is not a fan of Sedgefield Country Club.
Why? He had his reasons. But why is he there then? There are reasons for that, too.
Notably, the Englishman played well on Thursday at the Greensboro, N.C., track; Wallace shot a three-under 67 and was near the top of the leaderboard during the first round of the Wyndham Championship. But his feelings were set. In a short exchange with reporters, his frustration was clear from the first question.
“Overall pleased with the first round, Matt?”
“A bit pissed off actually with the finish,” said Wallace, who played his final five holes at two-over. “Playing nicely. Yeah, just frustrated. I don’t like this golf course.”
And that brings us to the why. Wallace explained.
“Because the runoffs are just absolutely ridiculous and this — it’s just not fun to play,” he said. “Hit a shot out of the rough on the last and it landed on the front and runs backwards 40 yards. Like, it’s just not great. Yeah, I shouldn’t be in the rough, but it’s difficult to hit the fairway all the time, especially like this.
“And then hit shots to the front and just — this is my third time playing. Every single time like, yeah, 83 percent of the winners hit green in regulations pretty much, so a lot of green in regulations is key, but the penalty for miss — even on the par-3 down the hill, 12, you can’t go long because you can putt it off the green, so you play the smart play and you play it towards the front, the middle and, from 220 yards, I mean, it’s just — it’s too severe, so they need to do something about it.”
It’s here where we’ll note that Wallace is by far not the first golfer not to toss bouquets toward a track, though Sedgefield has also been complimented this week. To that end, we all have our favorites and not-so favorites. And that brings us now to why Wallace is there.
There’s a lot at stake.
There’s a win, of course. But the Wyndham is also the last event of the PGA Tour’s regular season, and only the top 70 players in the Tour’s points standings move on to the high-reward playoffs. And Wallace is currently 80th.
And here he is.
“I want to be here,” he said. “I just don’t like the golf course. I want to be here, I want to play here and I want to play well. Maybe I shouldn’t say that. And hopefully if I win, I’ll say something different at the end of the week — I absolutely love this golf course. But I know the way to play well around here — you’ve got to hit lots of greens, and I felt like I’m doing that. You know, the putting was good today, which has been great. I hit quite a few greens, especially early on.
“I just think the penalty is just really, really severe, especially with bermudagrass, you know. It’s difficult to chip and play, and I just think — yeah, just personally, my personal belief, my personal preference is if I play or design a golf course, I just have areas where it wouldn’t just carry on running away. I hit 5-iron into the last there and it pitches at the front and then doesn’t go anywhere and runs 20 yards down, you know. I don’t know, maybe I’m just being me and being a bit bitchy, but yeah, it’s just how — it’s just how I see the golf course. Runoffs in the fairway, you can hit the fairway and they run into the rough. I mean, I don’t see that.”
And yet, outside of his finish, Wallace played well. Of course, that’s not unheard of; good scores and bad feelings can happen. It’s just tough to do.
Wallace also knew that.
“Just know that — I’m trying to like it, I’m trying to like it,” he said. “Came — I think the most important person here this week with me is my psychologist and we’re trying to enjoy the tournament rather than what it produces. So great tournament, great sponsor. Just for me, I just don’t like — if I don’t have to come here, I wouldn’t, but I kind of need to.”
A reporter at the Wyndham then asked:
“What’s your sports psych been doing to help you get in a good frame of mind?”
“Just talking about how I’m playing, how we’re going to go into today, play every single hole on its merits or individually,” Wallace said. “And I think I did that really well, especially at the start when I was playing really nicely. But we all know that the main thing around here, fairways and greens, is really important. And even so, when you hit the greens, sometimes you might be on the wrong side of the slope like I was on 17 — 16 in the bowl there, you know. I kind of had no putt up and over the hill.
“So it’s tough, it’s severe, yeah.”