It took freshman Brandon Matthews two matches to do what no Temple golfer has done in 39 years.
Matthews’ six-under-par round of 64 at The McLaughlin in Bethpage, N.Y., was the lowest single-round score since Walter Brown’s school record 63 at the Yale Invitational in 1973. Matthews led the Owls to a 10th-place finish.
“I think that [Matthews] is the best freshman golfer in the nation,” coach Brian Quinn said. “He’s an amazing young man and an incredibly hard worker. He has a thirst for knowledge and a drive to be the best he can be.”
Matthews labored through the first two rounds at Bethpage Red, ending up six-over par heading into Sunday. But Matthews said on Sunday, something changed.
“I was hitting the ball really well all weekend, I missed a few putts the first few days and something clicked Sunday,” Matthews said. “Everything I was hitting ended up either one or two feet away from the hole for birdie. One kid joked with me saying my birdie putts in the middle of my round were a combined 10 feet away.”
When Matthews heard that his coach thinks he’s the best at his age in the country, he said he was flattered, but realizes that he will have to work even harder now to improve his scores every round.
“My coach is very optimistic, hearing that though is flattering and definitely gives me confidence,” Matthews said. “For him to make that statement puts a lot of pressure on me, but it’s a huge compliment and makes me want to work harder every day.”
Quinn said that he doesn’t expect Matthews to shoot rounds like this every time, but would like to see him develop more consistency.
“The difference was the timing for [Matthews] and everything fell into place. He felt real good, he just missed a lot of putts the first two rounds,” Quinn said. “Sunday he played beautifully. He has the ability to consistently shoot like this. He needs to constantly develop his mind to make the best decision on every shot. He’s an incredibly skilled young man.”
While Quinn said he was happy with Matthews’ performance on Sunday, he still thinks there is more potential to realize not only from his freshman but from his team as a whole.
“If you look at the scores they were tight outside of the winners, I feel like we let a good finish get away from us,” Quinn said. “This will help us in the long run, we’ll learn what we need to work on to improve our scores each week.”
Apart from Matthews, senior Devin Bibeau was the only golfer who finished inside of the Top 40 individually, with a four-over-par total of 214. Quinn said Bibeau played solid golf and kept his teammates up through the first 36 holes.
“[Bibeau] played really solid this weekend,” Quinn said. “He really kept us up as a team through the first two rounds and it helped that [Matthews]dropped the hammer and played unreal on Sunday.”
Matthews said he realized what he did on Sunday will go down right behind Brown’s score in 1973. He also said that he’s young and has a lot of time to improve on that score, making the school record one of his goals for his career.
“It means a lot what I did today, I missed a putt from two-and-a-half feet and that really stung a little,” Matthews said. “Hopefully in the next four years I can set the record.”
Anthony Bellino can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @Bellino_Anthony.