At the Bull’s Bridge Golf Club in South Kent, Connecticut, then-freshman Brandon Matthews walked up to the tee at the 10th hole in a playoff with the 2012 Hartford Hawks Invitational on the line.
After grabbing his 3-iron, he pulled coach Brian Quinn aside and said, “Watch me aim this shot at the crowd of people, aim it as high as I can and hook it in.”
On the par 5, while facing the wind and hitting the ball uphill, Matthews drove the ball 275 yards to land five feet within the hole. He then knocked the ball in for an eagle and won his first tournament as an Owl.
“He just has that thing that most players don’t have,” Quinn said. “When you watch any sport, whether it’s Stephen Curry or it’s baseball and you’re watching Mike Trout, when you watch college golf, you look at Brandon versus everyone else. He just has that little extra swag.”
Matthews’ win at Bull’s Bridge Golf Club in 2012 was the first of his eight career wins at Temple.
Now, in his final season as an Owl, Matthews said he plans to compete as an amateur during the summer. His pursuit of a professional career began while attempting to earn his PGA tour card in the fall semester.
In order to obtain his PGA tour card, Matthews must first apply for entry to qualifying “school,” a common name for a series of preliminary tournaments, which has fees that range from $2,500 to $6,000, depending on the stage.
After competing in the first stage of pre-qualifying events in September 2015, Matthews advanced past the first round in October 2015 before finishing his attempt on the second stage following a 56th-place tie out of 74 golfers.
Matthews needs to finish in the Top 25 of the final stage to earn a spot on the Web.com tour, the PGA’s developmental circuit.
“That’s where it all starts,” Matthews said. “I have a lot of goals and aspirations but you gotta take it one step at a time. My professional career starts with Q-school, so that’s the first step. If I can make it through, that’s going to be great. I can get right out on the Web.com tour and hopefully do some damage.”
This summer, Matthews will play at the Sunnehanna Amateur Tournament for Champions, the Northeast Amateur Invitational and the Palmetto Amateur.
Matthews will also play in the U.S. Amateur tournament from Aug. 17-21 in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan.
In 2013, Matthews made it to the quarterfinals of the U.S. Amateur tournament but did not qualify for the tournament in 2014.
“That was one of my main reasons for staying amateur over the summer because I want to play in one more U.S. Amateur,” Matthews said. “I’m going to work hard to qualify in that and hopefully make a good run.”
During his freshman and senior year, Matthews placed in the Top 10 in 11 of the 12 events he played in.
“I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not one to hit 500 golf balls a day,” assistant coach Matt Teesdale said, who played with Matthews from 2012-15. “But he went above and beyond with that. The kid sits on the range for all hours on end and just beats balls. And it really helps muscle memory with his swing and it shows.”
Teesdale said on some nights, he and Matthews would drive to Quinn’s golf academy in Conshohocken, the BQ Golf Academy, to hit golf balls in the middle of the night.
Prior to enrolling at Temple, Matthews won the PIAA state championship in 2010 during his junior year at Pittson Area High School.
Quinn said Matthews, who stands 6-foot-4 inches possesses the prototypical size and strength of golfers on the tour today.
The senior said controlling his strength was something he improved on during his time on North Broad.
“Anyone can hit a ball hard and far, but, ‘Where is it going,’ right?” Quinn said. “So knowing your ball is going straight and far each and every time is an amazing thing. And that’s certainly what Brandon’s fantastic at.”
Matthews set a new stroke average record at Temple at 70.9 during his junior season.
After the first round of the American Athletic Conference Championships, Matthews is tied for the lead in what is his final tournament as an Owl.
“I love it here, it’s something I’ll never forget and I’ll cherish but I’m also very, very excited to get my career started,” Matthews said. “And hopefully be one of the top names in golf.”
“I’m really hoping to be that next Jordan Spieth, Rickie Fowler type presence on the PGA Tour and that’s one thing I’ve wanted my whole life … and Temple has definitely played a huge part in the process of me getting there.”
Tom Ignudo can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @Ignudo5.