This was the first collegiate tournament freshman Brandon Matthews’ father was able to see his son play in. Matthews made it memorable for his father by winning the Big 5 Invitational at the Philmont Country Club in Huntingdon Valley, Pa., during the weekend.
“It feels great, it’s great to come in here and win your own tournament on your home turf,” Matthews said. “I’ve been really working hard the last couple weeks. Playing this course a lot really helps and I played it very well.”
Matthews carded a first-round score of five-over par 76 on Saturday, Oct. 13, but came back Sunday with a one-under 69 to win the tournament.
Matthews spent about an hour on the range with coach Brian Quinn and his father after his round on Saturday. The freshman struggled hitting his driver all afternoon, not putting himself in position to hit low scores.
On day two, Matthews shot the one-under par round of 69 in front of about 10 family members and friends, which was good enough to give him a one-stroke victory against Binghamton sophomore Bryce Edmister and Princeton junior Greg Jarmas. Matthews said it felt amazing to be able to win on Temple’s home course with so many people who have been close to him since he was a junior golfer.
“Playing like I did with family and friends here was the best feeling in the world,” Matthews said. “For them to be here and watch me do this is absolutely great.”
Matthews holds a very close relationship to his father, Ted Matthews, who has mentored his golf game almost his entire life. Due to the amount of traveling done by the golf team, this is the first time Ted Matthews was able to see his son golf in college.
“I wouldn’t want to be any other place,” Ted Matthews said. “It’s great to see him play this well at this level.”
Brandon Matthews wasn’t always primarily a golfer, his father said. He made the switch to golf from baseball around age 12. Once Brandon Matthews made golf a priority, his father said he knew his son had a special talent.
“He played a lot of baseball and it really transitioned into a golf swing and really took to the game a lot,” Ted Matthews said. “Baseball took a backseat to golf, we worked hard at it and [this] is an accomplishment of what we worked on for all this time.”
Quinn reiterated what he has said of Brandon Matthews prior. The freshman has won three Atlantic 10 Conference Rookie of the Week awards and one A-10 Player of the week and will probably add another of each, but there is still more untapped potential that is to be desired, Quinn said.
“Brandon [Matthews] played really well winning the tournament. Once again I think he could’ve played a lot better though,” Quinn said. “I think he made a couple of decisions out there that cost him a few shots and made him work really hard to win that tournament individually.”
Brandon Matthews showed great resiliency coming down the stretch on Sunday after a three-putt bogey on hole 16. He went on to make a birdie on the par-three 17th that he made a double-bogey on in the first round. He followed that with a bunker save for par on 18, which he concluded dramatically with a Tiger Woods-style fist pump when his 15-foot putt went in the hole.
As a team, the Owls finished sixth overall, and came in first amongst the Big 5 schools, but Quinn said there was more to be desired from his team who gave away a lot of shots.
“I’m looking at trying to win the whole tournament, quite honestly our finish [Saturday] is what kind of cost us that,” Quinn said. “I’m overall happy with the way the kids hung in there but I expect them to play a little bit better than they played. They can certainly play a lot better.”
Senior Devin Bibeau was 10 shots higher than his freshman teammate, shooting a two-day total of 155. Following Bibeau and Brandon Matthews were junior Matt Crescenzo (156), sophomore Paul Carbone (165) and junior Russell Hartung (165).
Last week Quinn said Philmont would be playing like a professional golf course. He wasn’t exaggerating, as the winning team, the Hartford Hawks, finished with an overall score of (+49). He credited Philmont with setting up such a challenging golf course.
“The course played extremely difficult, it was a championship setup and the greens were really fast,” Quinn said. “The kids had a little trouble adjusting to the greens, the better players jumped leaps and bounds as they adjusted and Brandon [Matthews] is a perfect example.”
Temple has one tournament left on its fall schedule, at the St. Barnabas Health Intercollegiate held at Fairmont Country Club in Chatham, N.J., this weekend. Quinn said this team still has to keep working to get where they want to be on the leader board, mainly in the area of giving away shots with bad decisions.
“We still all have quite a bit of work to do so we’re not giving away any shots, that’s the key,” Quinn said. “If we can learn to be a little bit more frugal with our shot making and our decisions, I think we’ll start doing a little bit better.”
Anthony Bellino can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @Bellino_Anthony.