When former Temple University golfer Brandon Matthews stepped up to the tee box on hole one of the U.S. Open on June 17, the thousands of hours building towards this lifelong dream briefly flashed in his mind.
“At the highest stages of golf, that is when I succeed the best,” Matthews said. “Tougher conditions, the more crowds, the more pressure, is when I actually get calmer.”
Matthews is one of 25 golfers to earn their 2022-2023 PGA Tour status through the second-tier golf division, the Korn Ferry Tour. He is currently the fourth-ranked golfer on the Korn Ferry, allowing him to earn a berth in the U.S. Open, one of the PGA Tour’s four major events. When Matthews made the cut at one-under-par in the U.S. Open, it became just him and the ball, focusing on one stroke at a time.
However, competitions on June 18 and 19 brought difficult conditions, causing Matthews to slip in the tournament’s standings – a circumstance that avid fans may not see frequently with his trend of play, Temple head golf coach Brian Quinn said.
Matthews reached as high as the top-20 during Day 2, but a colder Day 3 led to him struggling with his approach shots and short-game. Matthews finished 60th at the Open, and while making the cut is an accomplishment on its own, he was not satisfied, Matthews said.
“The first tee ball of every round of golf that I play in a golf tournament, I am there to win that golf tournament,” Matthews said. “Sometimes the breaks don’t go my way, sometimes I’m not swinging the best.”
Matthews always believes he has a chance to win, and while winning takes shooting at least three-under-par per round, he’s proven he has what it takes. His driving distance on initial strokes makes him one of the best tee-shot players in the sport, finishing first at the Astara Golf Championship and tied for second at the Panama Championship, an international tournament on the Korn Ferry Tour.
Matthews overcame stressed back issues in 2019 due to overuse, and only made the cut in four Korn Ferry tournaments, but his willingness to improve has allowed him to become the 259th best golfer in the world among the nearly 67 million active golfers across the globe.
“Without adversity, I feel like no one really can become great,” said Matthews, a 2016 adult and organizational development alumnus.
Matthews, who was raised in Pittston, Pennsylvania, has played golf for as long as he can remember, and the experienced golfers and people in his life, like his father, Ted Matthews, an long-time amaetur golfer, or Quinn, who helped develop Brandon’s skill set and grow his confidence.
“I’ve never hit a shot for anyone I’ve taught,” Quinn said. “I’d like to think I’ve helped him become a better person.”
Quinn helped teach Matthews the more intangible aspects of golf, including maturity, course management and how to utilize his length.
Brandon Matthews’ four years at Temple gave him a sense of purpose, the desire to be the best in a competitive team environment and a high-level golf experience, he said.
“He is an incredible talent, has a great work ethic and is one of the most mentally tough athletes I’ve ever seen,” Quinn said.
Matthews prepared himself for the big moments, like playing in the Arnold Palmer Classic in 2020, by chipping golf balls in the front yard of his childhood home and challenging his dad to 18 holes.
“We both love golf so much, me and my dad,” Brandon Matthews said. “But he said, ‘whenever this feels like a job, even if it might be your job, you need to take a step away from it.’”
When Ted received a card from his son this past Father’s Day, reminding him of the dreams Brandon had of playing in the final round of the Open, it meant a lot seeing his son fulfill his goals.
“I saw a big difference in him at the U.S. Open compared to the Arnold Palmer and the Wells Fargo,” Ted Matthews said. “He met the challenge and succeeded at it.”
After an emotional moment with his son at the Matthews household in Pennsylvania, Ted’s instincts kicked in and reminded Brandon to stay “calm on his approach shots” and “take it one shot at a time”.
In a sport where confidence is crucial, Brandon’s own motivation coupled with his mentors’ dedication has led him to become one of the most confident golfers in the world.
“I see myself winning on the PGA Tour,” Brandon Matthews said.