Matthews had a freshman campaign that impressed many throughout the collegiate golf spectrum during the 2012–13 season. Last fall, Matthews claimed the Philadelphia Big Five Invitational by a single stroke, and then propelled himself even further up the ladder this past spring, finishing in the top 10 in 11 of 12 events. Matthews was later named to the Atlantic 10 All Conference Team and the Ping Division I All-Region Team, in addition to being honored as the A-10 Rookie of the Year.
On June 3, Matthews competed in the U.S. Open Sectional Qualifier at the Century Country Club and Old Oaks Country Club in Purchase, N.Y. with four spots in the 156 player U.S. Open field on the line.
During holes six through 10, Matthews collected two birdies, an eagle and a par to shoot up the leaderboard. After nailing a chip shot on the 18th hole, Matthews was in sole possession of fourth place.
“Before I hit that shot the officials told me, ‘You’re in fourth place alone, there’s four open spots,’” Matthews said. “At that point I made that shot and all that was on my mind was, ‘I’m in the U.S. Open.’ Obviously the celebration was insane after I made the shot. For 20 minutes a dream was a reality.”
That dream was a reality until Gavin Hall, who was playing right behind Matthews, birdied the last four holes to overtake fourth place and bounce Matthews out of the top four.
“I wasn’t disappointed at all,” Matthews said. “I was very thrilled with what I’d done and how far I made it and how well I competed against these guys.”
“It’s indescribable,” Matthews said. “You can’t really put it into words. It’s a very, very special experience and I’m really blessed to have this opportunity.”
Although he wasn’t able to play Merion’s course this week, for Matthews, his involvement as an alternate was still a milestone in his still very young career.
“To know I can compete with these guys is something that is pretty cool and it gives me a lot of confidence moving forward.”
Chase Senior can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @Chase_Senior.