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'69 is a great round at Sawgrass but I needed a kick up the backside' – Wallace's Players diary

Matt Wallace

The Players Championship
Venue: Players Stadium Course, TPC Sawgrass Date: 14-17 March
Coverage: Live text commentary and in-play highlights during the third and final rounds on Saturday and Sunday on the BBC Sport website, plus regular updates from the course on BBC Radio 5 Live

British golfer Matt Wallace made an encouraging start to his debut at the Players Championship, the biggest men’s tournament outside the four majors. In the second instalment of his exclusive Players diary, Wallace tells the story of his first round three-under-par 69.

Any time you walk off Sawgrass, even in the benign conditions we had on Thursday morning, 69 is great round here.

I am very happy with that start.

There has been a lot of work this week on my swing and on my tee shots in particular and my driver was fantastic. It sets up a lot of the holes and my game plan was good.

It was a really early start and to be honest I felt pretty tired on my way to the course. This is the last of a four-week run in which I have worked very hard on my game.

But I have statistics that show I’m good at the end of sequences like this so I was looking forward to it and, of course, I was anticipating arriving at the short par-three 17th island hole where so much can happen.

My front nine was very solid going to the turn in two under par but then I had a three putt on the 10th and I think that was the kick up the backside that I needed.

I was saying to myself “what are you thinking? Are you cruising through this or are you actually here to play a golf tournament?”

On the next hole I completely forgot about what had happened, put another good driver swing on it and set up the hole perfectly which helped me to a birdie.

The next is a short par four and I drove it onto the green to get another birdie so I was really happy with how I came back from that bad mental error on the 10th.

Those are the sort of things that happen in a week like this, people will make those kind of mistakes. I just have to make sure I don’t do it again.

Matt Wallace

That birdie on the 11th was important but overall I didn’t play the par five holes that well despite the quality of my driving. I was only one under for the long holes and I will work on that.

I wonder if we were aggressive enough to the right spots and I will talk to my caddie Dave McNeilly about that aspect. It is often difficult here to pick out where you want to land it.

When we got to the 17th it looked so short from the front tee that I felt like I could have thrown the ball onto the green.

So I felt quite comfortable. In practice it was playing like it was 170 yards and this was only 117 downwind. But that can create its own issues, like the ball getting knocked out of the sky so all of a sudden it was tough.

I ended up on the wrong portion of the green which is a difficult one to putt on but I managed to coax it down there and tap in for a par.

I’ll check out how the players cope with breezier conditions and get all the stats which will help me prepare for a later start in Friday’s second round.

But if I keep driving it like I have been I’m confident I will give myself plenty of chances. I want to keep the big numbers off my card because that is so important.

And it can be scary because some of the holes here you actually have to aim into bad areas, like hitting towards the water to find the fairways when the wind is off the side.

I’m going to have to suck it up sometimes and hit it down the water line and drift it off so I will go and work on that aspect before teeing off.

Matt Wallace

Matt Wallace was speaking to BBC golf correspondent Iain Carter.

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