Detroit — Golf, at least at the highest levels, typically is a kind, respectful game. But every once in a while, there's a tiff on the Tour.
Matt Wallace, meet Wayne "Radar" Riley.
Wallace and Riley made headlines in the last week when Wallace openly complained about having to play as a single at last week's Travelers Championship. Riley, of Sky Sports, shot back that Wallace, an Englishman who mostly plays the European Tour but this week in Detroit is playing his 24th career tournament on the PGA Tour, is a "visitor" in the United States who shouldn't "upset the Americans."
Wallace, 30, was at 9 under through the first two rounds of the Rocket Mortgage Classic, in contention heading into the weekend.
He shot a 3-under 69 on Friday, following his 6-under 66 on Thursday
"I would say this round's for Radar," Wallace said after the 66. "I just went out there and played. So with his comments of me just trying to shut up and go out and play, this one's for him."
Last week in Connecticut, two players and two caddies tested positive for COVID-19, among them PGA Tour player Denny McCarthy. McCarthy had to withdraw, and one of his scheduled playing partners, Bud Cauley, decided to WD, too, despite testing negative.
Rather than mix up the tee times a bit, as they did this week in Detroit when Cameron Champ (the other player to test positive last week, albeit a false positive) was a late addition to the Rocket Mortgage Classic.
The PGA Tour decided to create two twosomes at the back end of Thursday's round, rather than send Champ out on his own.
Last week, Wallace was the third member of the McCarthy-Cauley group, and was left playing as a single, surrounded by threesomes. He missed the cut.
"Would D.J. (Dustin Johnson) play on his own? Would Rory (McIlroy) play on his own? I probably doubt it," Wallace said at the Travelers. "So they could have dropped one of the players back from in front and maybe from behind to go ahead and play with me. I just don't think it was a great move to leave someone out their on their own in the middle of the pack."
Riley then commentated: “He’s a visitor on the PGA Tour. He hasn’t won over there yet. Don’t upset the apple cart right now because one day you might be asking for an invite. So, do you really want to upset the Americans? Don’t. Just go away, play your golf, play in a one-ball. You’ve done the right thing. But don’t come off, shoot plus-2 and start whinging and whining. It’s not the way forward.”
Wallace, who played collegiately in the United States at Jacksonville State in Alabama, has won four times on the European Tour.
His best showing in a regular PGA Tour tournament was a tie for sixth at the 2019 Arnold Palmer, though he also finish tied for third at the 2019 PGA Championship.
With the European Tour remaining shut down amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Wallace is playing his fourth of four PGA Tour tournaments since the restart.
With a new putter in the bag this week, Wallace used a bogey-free back nine, with four birdies, to get in the mix Friday afternoon at Detroit Golf Club.
"Loads of chances out there," said Wallace, "if you're in position."
And, apparently, if you're in a group of three — and not all by yourself.