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Four-time European Tour winner Matt Wallace has spoken of his regret over a “heated discussion” with his former caddie on the final hole of last year’s BMW International Open.
Wallace, 29, was roundly condemned on social media for his treatment of Dave McNeilly after finding water on the 72nd hole of the tournament last June whilst in contention to win.
Footage of the incident went viral and, although the pair later “hugged it out”, they split soon afterwards.
Speaking on the latest edition of the Golf Digest podcast, Wallace admitted that he wishes he had handled matters differently.
“I should have saved it for after the round,” he said. “My parents told me, ‘You’ve got to remember that you’re in the limelight now. It’s not like you’re playing on the Alps Tour where there are no cameras around and nobody’s watching. You’ve got to control your emotions more and think about what you’re going to say or do on the golf course.’”
Explaining what happened, Wallace added: “I found myself needing a birdie to tie on the last hole. The chat on the tee was that I was going to aim at ‘this TV tower’ – but there were two TV towers out there. Dave thought I was aiming at the one on the right, so he said to go way left. But I was aiming at the one on the left and left of that was water. So, it was a miscommunication between caddie and player.
“Knowing [what I know] now, and this is a good thing, you take that extra second or breath, talk it through and come up with the shot you want to do and then you fully commit to that. I was undecided and unsure what I was doing but, in the heat of the moment, you are so focused on trying to win the tournament that you don’t say anything. You just get on with it.
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“Ultimately, I it pulled it left, went in the water and that’s all we were talking about actually out on the golf course. Why did we do this? What was going on?”
A handful of social media users had suggested that Wallace had been physically abusive of McNeilly – a claim that the Englishman emphatically and categorically denies.
“It was a heated discussion that anyone has but it wasn’t anything that it was construed to be,” he said. “That was just my passion and my fire coming out.
“I feel it definitely went over the top with the chat that happened on social media after and whatever anything may have looked like, it wasn’t that.
“Dave and I still speak, we’re on great terms and it’s something I’ve had to put with. But I’m hoping that, now, I’m showing that that’s not who I am.”
In an fascinating, wide-ranging chat, Wallace also revealed how he dealt with the disappointment of being controversially overlooked for a Ryder Cup pick in 2018 and how he is passing the time with the tours currently being on a coronavirus-enforced lockdown.
Meanwhile, Wallace has donated half of his share of the purse from THE PLAYERS Championship to ‘Blessings in a Backpack’, a Florida-based charity.
His $18,200 donation will help to provide over 5,100 hunger-free weekends for kids in Jacksonville.
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