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Matt Wallace: My PGA Championship lead proves split with Dave McNeilly was right decision


Northern Irish caddie Dave McNeilly and Englishman Matt Wallace parted ways during the summer
Northern Irish caddie Dave McNeilly and Englishman Matt Wallace parted ways during the summer

Overnight BMW PGA Championship leader Matt Wallace reckons his split with Greenisland caddie Dave McNeilly is paying dividends.

The 29-year-old Englishman and the experienced bagman parted ways last month after Wallace put himself in the social media firing line for his behaviour towards McNeilly on course at the BMW International Open, where the defending champion twice found water on the 72nd hole as he chased a birdie to force a play-off.

The pair won four European Tour titles together last year and, while he insists it was a tough decision to make, Wallace says the proof is in the pudding of his game.

"It was the hardest decision I've had to make in my career," Wallace said after shooting a seven under par 65 to take the lead on the opening day of this week's tournament at Wentworth.

"He's done so much for me. He's got me to where I am today, but it was a time and a decision that I wanted to be done and change something up.

"I didn't want to keep being like that with Dave and Dave like that with me. Dave is 67 and he wants to improve every day, and that is why he was my guy for so long. He was great for me and I am sure I pushed him on as well.

"I don't think I want to change too much of me, I want to keep the fire. Around The Open I was changing my emotions inside and that was affecting the way I played.

"I hope I don't have to make any decisions ever like that again, but it's a business and it's what everyone keeps telling me. There are plenty of guys out here who sacked many a caddie and this is my first one. I wouldn't say it was a sacking, it was a parting of ways.

"Sometimes you need to make those hard decisions to go forward. I felt like it was the right one and it is producing some good stuff at the moment," added Wallace.

Wallace carded an eagle and five birdies in a flawless opening 65 to enjoy a one-shot lead over former Open champion Henrik Stenson and Spain's Jon Rahm, with Justin Rose a shot further back. Danny Willett and Paul Casey were part of a seven-strong group on four-under-par.

The 29-year-old Londoner initially cleared the air with McNeilly and they worked together at The Open at Royal Portrush - where Wallace played alongside Tiger Woods for the first two days - but the split came four days after the World Golf Championship event in Memphis.

McNeilly has previously caddied for the likes of Nick Faldo, Nick Price and Padraig Harrington.

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