Sky Sports British Masters: Matt Wallace targets 'statement' finish to European Tour season
Wallace earns early clubhouse lead at Sky Sports British Masters with five-under 67
Last Updated: 11/10/18 7:08pm
Matt Wallace says he is determined to make a "proper statement" over the final five events of the European Tour season as he seeks to continue his rise up the world rankings.
The Englishman, playing his fiftieth event this week, began his bid for a fifth tour victory in fine fashion as a five-under 67 moved him into an early clubhouse lead at Walton Heath.
Wallace sits just outside the world's top 50 and with the WGC-HSBC Champions followed by a trio of Rolex Series events, including the DP World Tour Championship season finale in Dubai, the 28-year-old knows there is plenty to play for.
"Right now, I'm right on plan for where we want me to be at, and we've got a good chance right now for these last five events to make a proper statement," Wallace, world No 59, said.
Wallace made his first cut in four attempts at a major championship with a share for 19th place at the PGA Championship and the three-time winner this season admits qualifying for a Masters debut next year is in his sights.
He said: "That would be nice. I definitely want to get there. (Caddie) Dave (McNeilly) says my game is pretty much suited for that golf.
"I think playing at the PGA, it showed that, as well."
Wallace offered a late headache to Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn with victory at the Made in Denmark but ultimately missed out on a pick as Europe regained the cup with a dominant 17½-10½ victory at Le Golf National.
But missing out on selection has only sought to increase his desire to make the team in 2020 at Whistling Straits.
"I think I've got a picture on my Instagram saying 2020 starts now. That's my character," Wallace said.
"You guys will start to learn that about me. That's what drives me."
He added: "You have setbacks and you've got to use those -- if that's your character you've got to use those setbacks to get better, and that's exactly what I do.
"Like I said, it's not a setback not getting in the Ryder Cup. To be able to [have] been in the mix with it is amazing. We'll take that and use it as fire, as I said."
Fellow countryman Matthew Fitzpatrick also made an encouraging start as the 24-year-old began two shots worse off after a three-under 69, which included an eagle and three birdies.
The five-time winner on tour successfully defended his Omega European Masters title at Crans-sur-Sierre last month and with five events left in the season he sits in 16th place in the Race to Dubai.
"I just never got anything going. The back-to-back birdies were both tap-ins so wasn't too exciting," Fitzpatrick told Sky Sports.
"I played solid overall and made a couple of good saves which were important to keep the momentum going but overall it is a decent start.
Fitzpatrick won his maiden European Tour title with a two-stroke victory at the event in 2015 - the first in the tournament's revamp with Sky Sports' backing.
He added: "Definitely. Justin has done a great job in setting the course up. The atmosphere is great, the fans are great on the course.
"It is always a fantastic experience and to be back as a previous winner is special."
Watch the Sky Sports British Masters throughout the week live on Sky Sports with second round coverage beginning at 9.30am on Sky Sports Golf.