‘It’s been a great experience’

June 27th, 2015 1:30 am

First Posted: 8/13/2013

It was just one of those days for Brandon Matthews where things just didn’t go right.

A triple-bogey, bogey, double-bogey start left the former Pittston Area standout still just 1-down, but it was a sign of things to come in a 5-and-3 loss to Australian Oliver Goss in the quarterfinals of the 113th U.S. Amateur at The Country Club in Brookline, Mass.

“Right off the first tee, I go out of bounds,” Matthews said. “I just didn’t have it today. You just have those days. I would have liked to do better, but this (week) has been great.”

While Matthews’ stated earlier in the week that pars are the goal of each hole, he was made to pay seemingly every time his came up short of his goal.

“I definitely didn’t expect to win 5-and-3 today,” said Goss, a quarterfinalist last year as well. “My first two matches were really tight. I think I played 53 out of 54 holes. But I’m glad I got the job done.”

Matthews’ week will remain one of the biggest individual accomplishments by a NEPA athlete in recent memory. A relative unknown on the national stage coming in to face a field of more than 300 golfers, the Temple golfer placed in the top 64 of that field after two days of stroke play to qualify for the Amateur’s match-play elimination format.

From there, Matthews won three matches to reach the final eight of the world’s biggest amateur tournament. He became part of history along the way, as he was one of three Americans to reach the quarterfinals, all of whom lost on Friday.

Sunday’s championship will be the first one in which two foreign players will meet for the title.

Matthews reaching the quarterfinals ensures him a spot in next year’s tournament, at Atlanta Athletic Club in Duluth, Ga. Matthews had to play in a qualifier this year. He hopes to enjoy the same support he did during his run this year.

“It’s just been great,” he said. “Everyone from back home and the people here have all been fantastic. It has been a great experience.”

Still Friday was a round of golf he will likely put behind him before reaching the Connecticut border.

Matthews struggled throughout his quarterfinal match at the 113th U.S. Amateur Championship, losing 5-and-3 to University of Tennessee standout Oliver Goss.

“I felt it on the range — I just didn’t have it today,” Matthews said. “It was not nerves, not anything. He gave me opportunities. I don’t think I put as much pressure on him as I could have.”

Matthews’ first shot of the day went out of bounds to the left of the first fairway, a harbinger of future bad breaks. He hit the sand trap on the second hole, then left a 6-foot uphill putt short. On the third hole, he ended up on a hill overlooking the green, scrambling his way to a double-bogey.

Yet was only 1-down through those three holes after winning the third when Goss went out of bounds himself.

“That’s just match play,” Matthews said of potentially going 3-down but ending up just 1-down. “We still had 15 holes, which is plenty of time. But I was up there trying to will it into the fairway, to will it onto the green.

As for Goss, his one serious blemish was quickly swept aside.

“Yeah, it was a 7-iron from 200 yards, and I was basically playing for the front of the green,” Goss said of his third hole play. “I got a huge flier that went into the water. I took a drop and it was a really tough shot. I hit it to 50 feet or so and ended up three-putting to lose the hole.

“But I put that behind me fairly quickly, just stood up on the next tee and stroked a 2-iron down to the next green.”

Both golfers settled in from there. They went par for par on holes 4-7, both making putts when they needed and both doing a great job chipping onto No. 7 — Goss with a basic, soft lob and Matthews with an undercutting slice of a chip.

Matthews lost the eighth hole after nearly making a birdie with a 60-foot putt that just skipped by. On No. 9, he made a par-saving putt on a green that had no level surface area.

But it was how he got to the greens that did Matthews in on this day. Shots that found the fairways all week went awry. After the stretch of pars on the front nine, Matthews found the rough off the tee on 10, 11 and 12. His tee shot on 13 went into the tree line to the left of the fairway.

He lost the 10th to go 3-down.

“When I’m hitting my driver straight, I can go about 330 yards,” Matthews said. “I was almost scared to hit it. I almost had (that feeling) with every club. You’re going to have those days. I guess I couldn’t have had it on Monday (a non-elimination day).”

The 14th hole summed up a frustrating day for Matthews.

He hit his tee shot into the rough on the right side of the fairway. His second shot crossed the fairway and went into the trees to the left of the fairway. He punched out of the trees, but remained in the rough, then lofted his fourth shot pin-high onto the green … only to see it roll off the green and down a hill back to the fairway. He then chunked his fifth shot past the green, before landing a flop shot just 2 feet from the pin for a triple-bogey 7 that put him 4-down.

“The game plan all week was to hit as many fairways as possible,” Goss said. “Once you are off the fairway, you are really struggling to hit the green and make par. Even just around the green is a good shot.”

It sure was. Goss triple-bogeyed No. 3, bogeyed No. 11 to split the hole and had a double-bogey on No. 14 to win that hole. He was in the rough on Nos. 3 and 14.

“I hit three fairways all day,” Matthews said. I had a great shot on 15. No. 6 with a 7-iron and No. 9.”

Not every golfer can be on every day, and most tournament golfers play four rounds in four days. Matthews played six round in five days, and even Friday was just a stroke or two from turning the match in his favor.

It will definitely give him something to shoot for a year from now, as Matthews’ efforts ensured him a spot in next year’s U.S. Amateur at the Atlanta Athletic Club in Georgia.