Wallace aiming for top spot at Leopard Creek

The Englishman hopes to spoil the party as the previous six Alfred Dunhill Championships have been won by South Africans

Matt Wallace of England. He is a three-time European Tour winner this year,  and has finished inside the top 15 in each of his last three tournaments. Photograph:  Stuart Franklin/Getty Images

Matt Wallace of England. He is a three-time European Tour winner this year, and has finished inside the top 15 in each of his last three tournaments. Photograph: Stuart Franklin/Getty Images

 

Matt Wallace aims to play the party pooper this week at the Alfred Dunhill Championship in South Africa.

The European Tour’s final tournament of the year starts at the Leopard Creek Country Club in Malelane on Thursday, and is expected to be a shootout between a host of South African favourites.

Defending champion Brandon Stone will be joined by last week’s South African Open winner Louis Oosthuizen, plus fellow countrymen Charl Schwartzel, Ernie Els, Branden Grace and Dylan Frittelli.

Yet Englishman Wallace is primed to give them all a run for their money. The 28-year-old from Hillingdon is a three-time European Tour winner this year – at the Hero Indian Open, the BMW International Open and Made In Denmark – and has finished inside the top 15 in each of his last three tournaments.

The previous six Alfred Dunhill Championships have been won by South Africans though, while Schwartzel is chasing his fourth tournament win. Oosthuizen is bidding for a second consecutive European Tour victory after his six-stroke win at the South African Open last week.

Leopard Creek has undergone major layout changes, and Oosthuizen believes the whole field face a major challenge.

“The changes here are brilliant, tough,” he told the European Tour’s official website. “You’ve got to really play well this week. Around the greens and the green itself, it’s just so much more demanding than it was before.I’m seeing dramatic scoring difference. I don’t really see very low scores around this golf course now.

“The speed and firmness of the greens, for now, make it tough. I think in a few years’ time the greens are going to settle in a little more, but at the moment they’re really firm and fast. You’ve got some homework to do with your yardage book so you can pitch it in the right spots on the greens.”

Ireland’s Gavin Moynihan, who missed the cut in the South African Open, is joined at Leopard Creek by Neil O’Briain.

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