SOUTHPORT, England (AP) — Matt Wallace moved into position for his fifth European Tour win in two years by shooting 5-under 67 to take the second-round lead at the British Masters on Friday.
The Englishman was 12 under overall and a stroke clear of a trio of players including Sweden’s Niklas Lemke, who made eight straight birdies — one off the professional golf record — in shooting 64. Lemke was tied with England’s Ross Fisher (65) and Belgium’s Thomas Detry (67).
Wallace won his first title in Portugal in 2017 before three more in 2018, when he was unfortunate to miss out on a wild card for the Ryder Cup outside Paris.
He is determined to continue his rise and has recently started working with fitness expert Dr. Steve McGregor, who counts former world No. 1s Rory McIlroy and Lee Westwood among his previous clients.
“If I look at the bigger picture of the next three or four years, it’s very similar to (British Open champion) Francesco (Molinari),” said Wallace, who was playing on the Alps Tour and at No. 1,672 in the rankings this time four years ago.
“Three years ago, he wasn’t where he is now and I want to be doing what he’s doing — Ryder Cups and majors and competing at every single event pretty much.”
Wallace has yet to drop a shot this week after starting with a 65.
With his streak of birdies from No. 13 to No. 2 after starting at the 10th hole, Lemke came close to equaling the record set by former British Open champion Mark Calcavecchia in 2009 and matched by Australia’s James Nitties at the Vic Open in February.
The 371st-ranked Lemke, who had missed the cut in six of his last seven events, had the third-best stroke average in the history of Arizona State University behind Paul Casey and Phil Mickelson but came close to giving up the game after struggling in the professional ranks.
“Three years ago, I decided I was going to give it two years and if I felt I was getting better I would continue,” said Lemke, who graduated from the European Tour qualifying school last year at the 10th attempt. “I made a two-year plan and committed to it.
“There are still some ups and downs but it feels like it’s going in the right direction.”