One of the unique elements of the U.S. Open is that it’s, well, open. In other words, the tournament holds open qualifying, so anyone with a handicap under two can make an attempt to earn a spot in the field.
Naturally, this leads to some truly singular stories. This year, we have the story of Matt Wallace. Wallace was working at Hollister a few years ago, and he still lives with his parents.
The 27-year-old has made a quantum leap up the Official World Golf Ranking, catapulting 1,500 spots in the last two years.
“It’s been a rapid rise,” Wallace told BBC Sport. You think? Dude didn’t start playing golf until he was 18. That’s less than 10 years of play! He tells the Guardian he was more interested in partying than playing golf:
“From 18, my head was on the wrong way, I worked for Hollister and was out partying all the time. I changed that when I was 20 when I had this thought of: ‘What am I going to do when I’m 30? I have nothing’.”
Common thought, uncommon action taken thereafter. Wallace got his game in shape, and he’s won seven times in the last two years on feeder circuits to the European Tour. Then, he incredibly won the Portugal Open…as the No. 242-ranked player in the world.
He heads to Erin Hills with his parents and girlfriend in tow. Earlier this week, he played practice rounds with Lee Westwood and Danny Willett, so he’ll doubtless have gotten some good advice.
Wallace also has an interesting mindset heading to Erin Hills, and it could serve him well. Here’s what he had to say about handling the the near-8,000 yard venue.
“I’ve had some great advice from players who have played in the US Open and they said you have to try and stay as calm as possible and grind it out as well as you can. At the end of the day it’s just golf. I try and dumb it down as much as possible and head out there and try and do my thing.”
Manage emotions. Stay focused. Keep things as simple as possible. Seems like a better orientation than, say, hitting it in the fescue, making double bogey, getting mad that there is fescue, not getting over that shot, failing to focus, hitting a poor drive…etc. Keep an eye on the Englishman this week.