Junior Brandon Matthews is tied for fifth place at the NCAA Men’s Golf Regional after shooting a one-under 69 during the second round of the tournament on Friday at Yale Golf Club in New Haven, Connecticut.
In order for Matthews, who is participating as an individual, to qualify for the NCAA Finals, he needs to have the lowest score among golfers in the field not on a top five team.
The current individual leader heading into Saturday’s final round is Northwestern freshman Dylan Wu, who is one stroke ahead of Matthews after shooting a two-under 68 and an even-par 70 on the first and second days of competition, respectively.
“I feel pretty good about it and I am really excited about tomorrow, just show everyone why I got selected and why I got the bid,” Matthews said. “I am just hitting it nice, that’s the bottom line. My ball striking is very good.”
After beginning the day with bogies on the 10th and 13th hoes, Matthews closed the front nine with birdies on the 16th and 18th holes.
“[Holes 16 and 18] were both par fives,” Matthews said. “With my length I should definitely take advantage, which I did.”
Matthews, who shot an even-par 70 on Thursday, finished Friday’s round with birdies on the fourth and ninth holes after bogeying the second hole.
With only one stroke separating Matthews from the individual leader, Coach Brian Quinn said his battle-tested junior is ready for the challenge.
“When you are as good as he is and have had the opportunity to travel as much as he has, you end of growing up a little bit faster,” Quinn said. “He is so prepared from that standpoint.”
Matthews also said previous tournaments have prepared him for Saturday.
“I have been in this position before, I know how to bounce back,” Matthews said. “That is one thing I have been good at my whole life, is battling back from adversity, and experience definitely helps.”
A familiarity with Yale Golf Club will also be working in Matthews’ favor during the final round of play on Saturday.
The Dupont, Pennsylvania native has played the course eight times throughout his career and feels comfortable with the playing conditions.
“The only thing is the greens are running pretty quick, they are a little bumpy, that is the only thing that is a little off,” Matthews said. “It’s not that I am putting bad, it’s just I haven’t been making the puts and that happens sometimes.
Matthews is scheduled to tee off Saturday at 9:53 a.m.
Connor Northrup can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org