Brandon Matthews protecting back to help golf career

By Tom Robinson - For Sunday Dispatch
Brandon Matthews plays a tee shot on the seventh hole during the third round of the Web.com Tour Qualifying Tournament at Whirlwind Golf Club on the Devel’s Claw course on Dec. 9, 2017 in Chandler, Arizona. - Photo courtesy of PGA TOUR

Brandon Matthews may not be thinking about his golf swing when he gets out of bed in the morning, when he is walking down the street or when he takes a seat.

Matthews is however, constantly aware of how to keep his body best prepared for the rigors of that golf swing.

The 23-year-old touring professional from Dupont enjoyed a successful, but “scary” 2017 season, overcoming an absence for a herniated disc and two bulging discs to earn advancement from the PGA Latinoamericas Tour to the Web.com Tour, the second-highest level of North American men’s golf.

“In my opinion, moving forward, I’ll actually become stronger and better and more aware of my back,” Matthews said in a December interview while preparing for the season that opened last week. “To put it bluntly, I was a dumb 22-year-old who didn’t do all the things to keep my back healthy.

“I didn’t have the best posture walking around; I didn’t stretch every morning.”

Matthews understands that keeping his back healthy is vital to having as long and successful a professional career as possible.

“It’s basically kind of a lifestyle change in just being aware of what I’m doing,” Matthews said, “not only on a daily basis, but literally every minute of my life.

“I’m constantly making correct decisions about how to sit, how to stand, how to move about.”

One of professional golf’s biggest hitters, Matthews said he will be aware of potential implications when studying his golf swing and making possible changes.

When he left the Latinoamericas Tour during the 2017 season, Matthews was feeling sciatic nerve pain down his right leg to his ankle. He returned to northeastern Pennsylvania to work with Jack Digwood at Elite Spine and Sports Physical Therapy in Wilkes-Barre. He credits that work with cutting his absence to less than half of the four to five-month projection he received from one doctor.

Matthews spent most of the winter in Florida, away from the potential stresses the cold could place on his back, and continued to receive therapy to be as strong as possible going into the season.

The current status on the Web.com Tour demands Matthews be physically ready.

With his performances in both the lower tour and the Web.com Tour Qualifying School, Matthews earned a Web.com card for 2018. He guaranteed himself a spot in any and all of the first eight tournaments of the season, at which point his status on the tour money list will determine whether he continues to be guaranteed every event or might be subject to some restrictions when events fill up with higher-ranked golfers.

With the chance to guarantee his place for the next few months, Matthews plans to play all eight tournaments to begin the season.

“I still have a long way to go to get to 100 pecent,” Matthews said. “But, I’m working really hard to get there and really hoping to get to the point of not having any pain at all when I tee it up.”

Matthews played his way into contention, taking a share of the lead at one point early in the third round of the season-opening Bahamas Great Exuma Classic at Sandals Emerald Bay Jan. 13-16.

With rain altering the schedule twice, the field had to complete the third round and play all of the fourth round Tuesday, the final day of competition.

Matthews struggled through the end of the third round, dropping out of contention and settling for a tie for 41st and $2,220 after shooting 71-68-78-70 for a 1-under-par, 287.

The tour remains in the Bahamas for the $600,000 Great Abaco Classic at The Abaco Club Sunday through Wednesday.

Brandon Matthews plays a tee shot on the seventh hole during the third round of the Web.com Tour Qualifying Tournament at Whirlwind Golf Club on the Devel’s Claw course on Dec. 9, 2017 in Chandler, Arizona.
https://www.psdispatch.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/web1_MATTHEWS_Action2.jpgBrandon Matthews plays a tee shot on the seventh hole during the third round of the Web.com Tour Qualifying Tournament at Whirlwind Golf Club on the Devel’s Claw course on Dec. 9, 2017 in Chandler, Arizona. Photo courtesy of PGA TOUR

By Tom Robinson

For Sunday Dispatch

Reach the Sunday Dispatch newsroom at 570-655-1418 or by email at sd@psdispatch.com.

Reach the Sunday Dispatch newsroom at 570-655-1418 or by email at sd@psdispatch.com.