Wallace Still Getting Into the Swing of Things
April 25, 2010
By Michael Jeremiah
The list of Pac-10 men's individual golf champions at Washington is exclusive. Senior Darren Wallace is part of that group, and considering the names that have passed through the program it's something to hang his hat on.
Top amateur Nick Taylor and rising PGA Tour star Alex Prugh aren't on the list. Taylor will get his final chance this weekend, but for now the list is Clint Names, O.D. Vincent, Erik Olsen, and Wallace.
As has been the case for his career, Wallace is still working through some of the adjustments that he made over the winter break to be at his best for the spring.What issues can the defending conference champions and one of the best players on the fourth-ranked Huskies have?
'A lot actually,' said Wallace with a laugh. 'I've been going through some swing issues and I'm still going through them. Even going out and practicing right now is a little bit of a struggle. We're trying to keep it in play off the tee and I need to improve my putting.'
According to Wallace, one of the crucial things to working on his game at Washington is the new Husky Golf Center. With almost unlimited access to a facility to improve as a player, Wallace and the rest of the team has worked hard.
After years of meeting with his swing coach in Canada, Wallace has had to adjust to working on any changes over the phone with that coach while consulting with the Husky staff. Adjusting from swing to swing is difficult, but the new video technology that the Golf Center offers to Husky golfers is invaluable to Wallace's preparation.
'I love the video and seeing where my swing is at and being able to make adjustments on a swing to swing basis,' said Wallace. 'I can make one swing, see it, have a look and then have an adjustment on the next swing. I love that part and the fact that we can come down here whenever I want to work on our game.'
In 2009, Wallace struggled with similar problems but made the necessary adjustments in time for a strong spring. Despite still showing obvious frustration with his game this week, he started to right the ship with his best performance so far this season, shooting +2 (212) and finishing in the top-20 at the U.S. Intercollegiate last weekend.
Last year, he followed a strong U.S. Intercollegiate by running away with medalist honors at the conference tournament with a -11 score. The Huskies also claimed the second spot with Nick Taylor roaring back on the final day to finish just behind Wallace.
The two are part a strong lineup for the Huskies. Langley is about 30 minutes from Taylor's hometown of Abbotsford, B.C., meaning they competed against each other plenty at the junior level before coming to Washington.
'He was definitely a rival. And then when I made the decision to come here a little before he did, so when he decided I was happy because I knew we would have another quality player,' said Wallace. 'It's a healthy rivalry.'
Along with Taylor, Wallace is one of the top match-play golfers on the Washington squad. High hopes for last year's postseason were dashed when the Huskies fell 3-2 in an upset by Arkansas in the National Quarterfinals. The two points for Washington came from Taylor and Wallace, and the Huskies know they can rely on both for strong match play.
Although he is a talented stroke play golfer, Wallace likes the read and react aspect of match play. Only facing one opponent instead of the field allows Wallace to play his game knowing exactly what he needs to do. And when he plays his game, there are few golfers in the country that can play with the All-American Wallace.
Wallace has the ability to string together strong rounds, and a strong career at Washington will likely lead to a shot at the PGA tour after his time as a Husky. With Prugh flourishing on the Tour, Wallace has someone to rely on for advice about the transition next year.
'It's nice knowing someone out there,' said Wallace. 'I've talked to him a few times since he's been having success on the tour. Being able to know someone out there and being able to talk to him on things that happen on the PGA tour that I wouldn't be able to if I didn't know him.'
The PGA Tour is probably in the future, but Wallace is adamant that while the future is enticing, the present is where his mind is. With only weeks left in his college golf career and a few courses before he earns his college degree, Wallace wonders aloud where the last four years went.
'I wish I had more time here, but at the same time it's going to be fun being out,' said Wallace. 'I'm looking forward to it, but it's been a fun four years here and its going to be over soon.'
There's still some work to do for Wallace and the Huskies this season. The Pac-10 Championships is this week, and Wallace will look to defend his individual title while helping the Huskies keep the team title in Seattle. And with Wallace continuing to work on his game, the Huskies will be in great shape to improve on their finish from 2009 this season.
'This year we have expectations that we want to reach and that includes winning a national title,' said Wallace. 'I have the mentality that we should win and that we are one of the teams to beat. Last year, there were some other good teams out there that might have been ahead of us.'
'This year, I think if we were to make it there it wouldn't be an upset. We are one of the teams that people expect to be there.'