HANOVER TWP. — Before he goes pro in the fall, Brandon Matthews wanted to go out and have a little fun.
He picked the 2016 McCarthy golf course as a perfect place to find some.
Matthews and his partner Ken Ralston finished The McCarthy’s qualifying round with a five-under 66 Friday, advancing to the weekend’s championship flight and matching the tandem of Scott Henry and former golf professional Eric Williams for the top score during qualifying rounds at Wyoming Valley Country Club.
“This is nice,” said Matthews, a former Pennsylvania high school state champion when he played for Pittston Area. “I always love playing in these things. A lot of fun, a lot of good relaxation.”
He’s accustomed to a lot of success, as an All-American honorable mention at Temple University and an alternate for the U.S. Open.
Neither Frank Schiel Sr. nor his son Frank Jr. have that kind of pedigree, but they’ll join the Championship Flight in The McCarthy on Saturday after winning a four-team playoff for the 16th and final spot in the field.
Frank Schiel Jr. snapped off a long setup shot to the green, then finished up with a birdie to best the teams of Mark Jones and Rich Serafin, Mark Soprano and Jim Roberts and Ed Brady and Neil Bukeavich after one hole.
“Missed an Eagle putt, made birdie, got in (the championship flight),” Schiel Jr. said. “We’ll see what happens (Saturday). The course played tough. We kind of struggled today, shot 1-over. We didn’t play to the best of our abilities. But we held our own, we kept it together. We were shocked we got in a playoff, I thought (shooting) 1-over, we would have never got in.”
Matthews, who reached the semifinal round of The McCarthy last year, is accustomed to being in play for a tournament title.
His team birdied the first three holes at the start of the McCarthy on Friday, and played steadily throughout his morning round to wrap up qualifying as a co-leader.
That’s typical of Matthews.
During a record-setting career at Temple, Matthews qualified as an alternate at the U.S. Open at Merion Golf Club a couple of years ago. He reached the quarterfinals of the U.S. Amateur once and missed making a second U.S. Amateur quarterfinals by one stroke; and finished as high as 15th at the NCAA Championships.
The Dupont native placed in the top 10 in the 11 of 12 tournaments he played during two separate seasons at Temple. Matthews began his college career by winning the Atlantic 10 Rookie of the Week award a record 10 times and was named the Atlantic 10 Rookie of the Year following the 2012-13 season after shooting a 64 at McLaughlin — the lowest single round at that tournament since 1973 and the lowest-ever by a freshman.
He tied Temple records with three consecutive tournament victories and eight career wins, and his 70.9 average round as a junior in 2014-15 set a new single-season school record.
The Wyoming Valley’s most decorated college golfer since former PGA player Ted Tryba of Hanover Twp., Matthews is typically the most-watched, and most favored golfer, in any area tournament he plays.
But if that pressures him, he hasn’t noticed.
“It’s really for fun,” Matthews said. “I’m happy to be around so many good people here.”
That will change soon.
Matthews plans to head to play in one more U.S. Amateur Championship in August at Oakland Hills Country Club in Bloomfield Hills, Mich. Then he will head down to the PGA Tour Qualifying School in October, in an attempt to earn his card to play professionally on the PGA Tour.
“Really, Q School is the easier way to the PGA Tour,” Matthews said. “It’s a series of four tournaments in all (where golfers have to keep qualifying to advance to the next one). It’s a tough road.
“But I’m excited to start it.”
Until then, Matthews will keep busy with a few one-day tournaments. Up next for him is the 2016 Golf Classic at Glenmaura, where he will team with Jimmy Gardas.
“I’m not really sure about any other ones,” Matthews said. “I’m just here to have a good time, enjoy myself over this weekend.”
Defending co-champion Eric Williams ponders his putt on the 12th green at the McCarthy Golf Tournament at the Wyoming Valley Country Club in Hanover Township on Friday.
Jim Gardas just misses an eagle on the 12th green at the McCarthy Golf Tournament at the Wyoming Valley Country Club in Hanover Township on Friday.
Gene Chiavacci hits out of a sand trap at the 12th green at the McCarthy Golf Tournament at the Wyoming Valley Country Club in Hanover Township on Friday.
Scott Henry, right, watches his drive at the 13th tee with partner Eric Williams at the McCarthy Golf Tournament at the Wyoming Valley Country Club in Hanover Township on Friday.
Joe Werner watches his fairway shot to the 12th green at the McCarthy Golf Tournament at the Wyoming Valley Country Club in Hanover Township on Friday.
John Henry is pleased with his drive at the 13th tee at the McCarthy Golf Tournament at the Wyoming Valley Country Club in Hanover Township on Friday.
(Top 16 advance to championship flight)
T-1.`Ken Ralston/Brandon Matthews`66
T-1`Scott Henry/Eric Williams`66
3.`Rick Berry/Art Brunn Jr.`67
T-4.`Marty Beam/Todd Vonderheid`68
T-4.`Mike Blazick/Tom Biscotti`68
T-4.`Drew Mamary/Eric Plisko`68
T-4.`Mark Jarolen/Len Coleman`68
T-4.`John Olszewski/A.J. Olszewski`68
9.`Joe Weiscarger/John Gershey`69
T-10.`John Leighton/Scott Majikes`70
T-10.`Ted Patton/John Henry`70
T-10.`Keith Kopec/Brian Balutis`70
T-10.`Joe Werner/Jim Gardas`70
T-14.`Jim Scorey/Pete Johnson`71
T-14.`Brad Jumper/Justin Jumper`71
16.`Frank Schiel Sr./Frank Schiel Jr.`72
T-17.`Mark Jones/Rich Serafin`72
T-17.`Ed Brady/Neal Bukeavich`72
T-17.`Mark Soprano/Jim Roberts`72
T-20.`Chad Redo/Pete Olszewski`73
T-20.`Ed Steve/Bob Shoemaker`73
T-20.`Dave Owea/Dennis Owea`73
T-23.`Mike Duda/Lee Duda`74
T-23.`Harry Gaughan/Jamie Yourren`74
T-25.`Steve Shipierski/Randy Knappman`75
T-25.`Dave Bienias/Eric Weiscarger`75
T-25.`Jeff Lewis/Jeff Brunn`75
T-25.`John Savitski/Jake Savitski`75
T-25.`Baker Kempinski/Lou Mastrini`75
T-25.`Joe Patrizi/Joe Patrizi`75
T-31.`Larry Karnes/Brian Kerstetter`76
T-31.`Tony Morrash/Tony Morrash Jr.`76
T-31.`Paul Kish/John Lasko`76
T-31.`Bob Jones/Alex Rogers`76
T-31.`Rick Burick/Hugh Mundy`76
T-36.`Christian Chwiej/Steve Chweij`77
T-36.`Bill Amesbury/Will Amesbury`77
T-36.`Greg Ready/Rob Lee`77
T-39.`Paul Tomek/Dan Cornelli`78
T-39.`Ray Whalen/Brian Weiscarger`78
T-39.`Fran Fisher/Kevin Fisher`78
T-39.`Chris Schwartz/Dennis Bonvie`78
T-43.`Tony Grabowski/George Jones`79
T-43.`Max Hritzik/Jerry Wastak`79
T-43.`Joe Marut/Dan Wolfe`79
T-43.`Matt Wotherspoon/Samuel Lewis`79
T-43.`Dan Novak/Mark Dingman`79
T-43.`Tom Leighton/Jack Nicholson`79
T-49.`Bob Selig/Bob Howes`80
T-49.`Larry MacDonald/Paul MacDonald`80
T-49.`Randy Catalanotte/Aaron Catalanotte`80
T-49.`John Lisman/Jim Sheridan`80
T-49.`Eric Dingle/Dave Stashik`80
T-49.`Jim Samselski/Tom Brown`80
T-49.`John McCarthy Jr./Joe McCarthy III`80
T-49.`Matt Martin/Jacob Martin`80
T-57.`Bob Corba/Bruce Muchler`81
T-57.`Ed Nork/Steve Tokach`81
T-57.`Bob Ashton/Herb Pearson`81
T-57.`J.P. Andrejko/Brian Horgan`81
T-57.`John Miller/Eric Miller`81
T-57.`Dan Horn/Pat Doyle`81
63.`R.X. Kempinski/Jay Burkhart`82
64.`Dan Leo/Pat Wielgopolski`83
T-65.`Frank Slucki/Frank Slucki III`84
T-65.`Vince Tassitano/Russ Swantko`84
T-65.`Manny Mihalos/Gene Chiavacci`84
T-65.`John Bobeck/Dan Barnes`84
T-65.`Ned Delaney/Gene Caprio`84
T-65.`John Churnetski/Wally Kuharchik`84
T-65.`Joe Toole/Mike Toole`84
T-65.`Joe Marx/Jason Moore`84
T-73.`Joe Beggs/Tony Genoble`85
T-73.`Charlie Makar/Ed Katarsky`85
T-73.`Dave Lewis/Eric Richardson`85
T-73.`Mike Wilk/Joe Humanik`85
T-77.`Paul Murphy/Marty Murphy`86
T-77.`Bill Vinsko/Tony Modrovsky`86
T-77.`Gary Slusser/Bob Bull`86
T-77.`Bob Robel/Mike Kowalick`87
T-77.`Joe Manoski/Ken Swiderski`87
T-77.`Henry Goldowski/Rick Cronauer`87
T-77.`Dennis Puhalla/Jim Brozena`87
T-77.`John McDermott/Ray Lick`87
T-77.`Kevin Barno/Drew Barno`87
T-77.`Ron Swank/Bob Ashton`87
T-77.`Len Lulis/Sandy MacLauchlin`87
T-85.`Tony Pointek/Mike Pointek`88
T-85.`Henry Bobeck/Mel Hall`88
T-85.`Joe Butcher/Joseph J. Butcher`88
T-88.`Geoff Dent/Dale Dent`89
T-88.`Joe Periguno/Phil Straub`89
90.`Jack Zelinka/Steve Stillarty`90
91.`Ken Thoma/Keith Robak`91
T-92.`Connie Schintz/Mike McKenna`92
T-92.`Tim McGinley/Henry Pennoni`92
T-92.`Jerry Hunsinger/Marty Kane`92
95.`Tom Zabresky/Rich Franks`93
T-96.`Dave DeFine/Derek DeFine`94
T-96.`George Potsko/Stan Kempinski`94
98.`Jim Sabatini/Ron Hummer`95
T-99.`Karen Hazleton/Mark Olney`96
T-99.`Ron Drobenak/Bob Bray`96
101.`Milliard Galat/Tom Kempinski`98