Matt Wallace has admitted he was “absolutely gutted” to be overlooked for the European Ryder Cup team last year - but says he intends to use the disappointment as motivation to make the side in 2020.
Wallace, 28, was controversially denied one of captain Thomas Bjorn’s four picks, despite winning three times in a six-month stretch on the European Tour. The last of those came at the Made In Denmark, just two days before Bjorn completed his 12-man side.
Despite Wallace’s better form, Bjorn decided to go with the experienced quartet of Henrik Stenson, Ian Poulter, Paul Casey and Sergio Garcia.
Whilst that decision was vindicated by a resounding win over the USA at Le Golf National, Wallace admits that, initially at least, he was hugely disappointed not to make the side.
“To be honest, I thought I’d done enough,” he told bunkered.co.uk as he was announced as a new brand ambassador for four-time Ryder Cup host venue, The Belfry. “I thought I was right for a pick. I had shown something different, particularly to myself in Denmark, where it was all on the line, all or nothing. When it mattered, I got the job done and I really thought that was going to be enough."
“As it turned out, it wasn’t to be and, yeah, I was absolutely gutted. Now, a few months down the line, I’m able to look at it and take the view that everything happens for a reason. It just wasn’t meant to be my time.
“I can’t afford to dwell on not being involved. Instead, I’ve got to use it as motivation to make the next team.”
Working towards a place on that side is something that Wallace says started the very instant the 2018 match was won.
“I watched it all right up until Mickelson conceded to Frankie [Molinari] after still his tee shot on the 16th in the water,” he says. “I didn’t see Alex Noren holing that huge putt to finish the match because I was already out on the range. I remember posting something on social media at the time saying something along the lines of ‘The 2020 prep starts here’.”
As for Bjorn, Wallace says there are no hard feelings.
“The first time I see him after the Ryder Cup was at the British Masters at Walton Heath,” he recalls. “He came up to me on the range and gave me a big hug. I told him well done and he thanked me for that. It was hard to miss out but, equally, I know how bad Thomas felt about it. He had to make some tough decisions and he obviously made the right ones. The scoreline tells you everything you need to know.
“He and I are absolutely fine. I’m not the sort of person to hold a grudge. That’s not who I am. What happened, happened. I'm moving on and looking to the future.”
He'll do so with The Belfry. Wallace will be at the forefront of campaigns for the iconic resort, something he says is a “real honour”.
"I’m proud to be associated with one of our country’s most iconic venues," he said. "One of my first sporting memories is Tiger Woods playing here and Phillip Price beating Phil Mickelson in 2002. The courses, hotel and all the facilities are first class, so I am looking forward to our partnership and an exciting year.”