US Open 2022: Brandon Matthews’ power is his trademark, but it’s his patience that got him here | Golf News and Tour Information
BROOKLINE. Mass. — At the 18th hole of the Country Club, a practice group which included Adam Scott and Thomas Pieters – neither of whom will be mistaken for short hitters – halted their procession to the green. Brandon Matthews had yet to strike, and as usual he was far enough away from the pack.
If there are any small annoyances that come with being the longest player in golf, this could be one of them. Matthew almost still must wait his turn at the end of every fairway he plays, but golf rewards patience in more ways than one. After reaching the US Amateur quarterfinal at the Country Club in 2013, Matthews took a circuitous route to his first major championship. He lost his Korn Ferry status once, was relegated to the PGA Tour Latinoamerica and competed through a series of injuries that took an equal toll on his psyche. In his last 18 starts on the Korn Ferry in 2019, Matthews has made just one cut.
“There’s always a doubt creeping in,” said Matthews, 27. “I think 2019 was a tough year for me mentally, physically – nothing was going well. But it was also the best year for me because that year taught me how to deal with most of the difficulties that I had. Coming back from that made me who I am today.
It was 2019 when the native of Scranton, Pennsylvania also faced the defining episode of his career, when he missed a short playoff putt for the 2019 Argentine Open after a fan shouted in the gallery. Matthews lost the playoffs but was praised for the grace he showed after learning the youngster had Down syndrome. That year, Matthews also began working with instructor Dale Gray, who sought to harness Matthews’ incredible power and develop a swing he could trust.
“He had such a two-way failure,” Gray said. He was hitting high blocks on the right, and also carabiners on the left. It was a lot.
In the years since, Matthews’ game has grown enough for him to return to the Korn Ferry Tour, and in the past week he passed two important milestones in the space of a few days. After securing a spot in the US Open field during final qualifying in suburban New York, Matthews earned a PGA Tour card for 2022-23 with a 67 finish in the BMW Charity Pro-Am.
So he returns to Brookline with job security, comfort with the course he made his mark on as an 18-year-old, and a new sense of how to pick his spots. With clubhead speeds of up to 135mph, Matthews will likely only hit four or five drivers at the Country Club, meaning he may not have to wait that long for his approach shots. .
“I had success here, but nine years has changed a lot,” Matthews said. “My maturity has increased, but the way I approach the game, my mentality, everything is different. Every time I step onto this course I can see the lines. I feel incredibly comfortable and incredibly confident. I can see the shots I want to hit.
More than anything technical, Gray says a telltale sign for Matthews is only in the small moments of a practice round, when he can see the player is more invested than usual.
“I can see when he commits and focuses on shooting in practice rounds,” said Gray, who argues Matthews has the potential to be a top-10 player. “He has that this week. I think it’s going to be a fun week for him.