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England’s Matt Wallace moves into contention at halfway stage of Dutch Open

England’s Matt Wallace lies two shots off the halfway lead in the Dutch Open (David Davies/PA)
England’s Matt Wallace lies two shots off the halfway lead in the Dutch Open (David Davies/PA)

England’s Matt Wallace credited the power of positive thinking as he moved into contention for a first victory since 2018 in the Dutch Open.

A second round of 67 at Bernardus Golf gave Wallace a halfway total of eight under par and left him two shots behind Portugal’s Ricardo Gouveia, whose 66 late in the day saw him take a one-shot lead over China’s Li Haotong.

Wallace came into the week having missed the cut in eight of his last nine starts and without a win since making an impressive – if ultimately unsuccessful – case for a Ryder Cup wild card in 2018 with three victories in 15 events.

The last of those came in front of Europe captain Thomas Bjorn in the final qualifying event, Wallace carding five birdies in his last six holes to get into a four-man play-off and then also making birdie on both extra holes to secure the win.

“I have had a really good mental attitude this week,” Wallace said after a round containing six birdies and one bogey. “It is all about executing the shot for me, the swing, seeing it and executing it, and crack on from there.

“(It’s about) positivity, not talking bad about myself or a shot; putting more energy into the good shots rather than the bad shots, so if I hit a bad shot you are allowed to let that frustration out but then don’t give it any energy or any thought.

“You know, fist pump the good stuff and talk about the good stuff rather than the bad stuff. We expect ourselves to hit good shots and you don’t say anything sometimes, but actually when you hit a good shot, you should give yourself credit, fist bump, talk with your caddie and say ‘good shot’.”

Matt Wallace
England’s Matt Wallace is seeking a first win since 2018 in the Dutch Open (Richard Sellers/PA)

Li had earlier climbed 70 places on the leaderboard thanks to a superb 63 which included an eagle and eight birdies and a front nine – the back nine of the course – of just 29 shots.

“Obviously I had a hot start and my putting was very hot,” Li said. “I holed a lot of long putts and the game has been slowly coming back.

“With this course, if you are off a little bit, it’s so easy to have a bogey, so today I put every ball in safer places and created a lot of birdie chances from there.

“I need to be myself and stay calm, and hopefully I can shoot another couple of rounds like this.”