Matt Wallace fires nine birdies in a row in stunning 60 at DP World Tour Championship

Englishman charges to top of leaderboard at Earth Course with record-breaking third round

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Matt Wallace said he was not even aware he had had a chance to break 60 until marking his ball a foot from the hole at the culmination of an extraordinary third round at the DP World Tour Championship.

His bunker shot, which shaved the edge of the hole, had been the 59th stroke of sensational day for the Englishman at Jumeirah Golf Estates.

He birdied every hole of the back nine, finishing on 12-under for the day. It gave him the clubhouse lead at 16-under and a shot at winning the tour’s season finale for the first time on Sunday.

“I knew the last was for nine [birdies] in a row,” Wallace said. “If I’d known it was for 59 I think it would have chanelled me in a little bit more.

“I honestly didn’t know. I marked my ball and looked at the leaderboard and thought, ‘Hold up, I’m at 11-under so that would have been 13. That was for a 59? Oh well.’”

What a difference a week makes. Seven days earlier, Wallace had seemingly played himself out of even competing at the Earth Course this week.

A 5-over-par 77 in the third round at the Nedbank Golf Challenge in South Africa had him tumbling down the Race to Dubai rankings, only for him to repair the damage just in time, by shooting 10 shots better a day later.

His tied-15th finish at that event meant he sneaked into the 50-player field for the DP World Tour Championship. It has also allowed him to make history: no other player has birdied every hole of a front or back nine on the European Tour.

“I had to shoot 5-under the next day in tough conditions round that golf course which is tough, just to even get here,” Wallace said of his experience at the Nedbank.

“Now we are here and in with a chance of lifting the big one, this one. It is brilliant. I needed something like that to get me in the hunt, and I have done it, so I am happy.

“Money doesn’t drive me. It inspires me. In these big tournaments, I want to compete, and be right up there.”

Wallace has made 59 once before, but not on tour. That came on the West Course of Moor Park Golf Club, near where he is from, just to the northwest of London.

He acknowledged that he had benefitted from the playing conditions which accounted for preferred lies. The rule was invoked after a second morning of heavy rain in Dubai.

He also said he enjoyed the company of his playing partner, Dan Bradbury, even if he did happen to put his young compatriot's own exploits in the shade.

“Dan said, ‘Wow, I feel like I shot 5-over,’ but he shot 4-under, and played really nicely,” Wallace said.

“It was a good group out there, the weather was fantastic. I putted nicely, which is a change from the form I have been in.

“We have been working towards this so it was really nice that it came good there on the back nine.

“I guess I’m just not scared to go low. I just love making birdies and I always want to make one more. Always want to push forward, and I guess that showed out there.”

Wallace will start the final day of the tournament one shot clear of Tommy Fleetwood and Viktor Hovland, who are tied in second on 15-under par.

Updated: November 18, 2023, 2:15 PM