When Brandon Matthews won the Astara Golf Championship in Bogota, Colombia on February 13, he blinked back tears and wiped his eyes as he thought about making a phone call to his father back home in POn the verge of locking up his PGA Tour card, Brandon Matthews gets dress rehearsal at Wells Fargo Championshipennsylvania.
“He’s my best friend in the world,” Matthews said. “What he’s done for me, been there for me through thick and thin, the way he’s raised me, God, I can’t wait to go see him.”
As for the phone call that day? “We ‘bleeping’ did it was the actual first words,” Matthews recounted during a pre-tournament press conference ahead of the PGA Tour’s Wells Fargo Championship, where he is competing this week on a sponsor’s exemption. “To go back and look at all the hard work and the dedication my father put in for me, the sacrifices that he has made to get me to where I am, it’s, you know, it goes without saying how special he is to me.”
The 27-year-old Temple alum enters the week ranked No. 4 on the Korn Ferry Tour Points List, with the Top 25 earning a PGA Tour card for next season. Matthews credited his dad for getting him into the game and creating a long-bomber’s mentality that has become his signature.
“The 15th hole at my home club, Emanon (Country Club in Falls, Pennsylvania), has a little lake to cover and he used to sit me on the women’s tee when I was four, five years old and it was probably 60 yards to cover it,” Matthews explained. “From there, as soon as I got it over, he moved me back a tee and then did the same thing, as soon as I got it over from the next tee back, move back a tee. So, from a very young age I was just trying to hit it as hard as I can, so I developed power before I developed technique. So I think that was one of the main reasons why I hit it so far, because I just learned it at an early age, hit it as hard as you can.”
And bomb it he does: his 6-iron carries about 216 and the 6-foot-4, 210-pound Matthews led the Korn Ferry Tour in driving distance in 2019 (331.3 yards).
“My normal one that I’ve been hitting, kind of the “fairway finder cruiser” will fly somewhere around just over 330,” Matthews said of his driver, “and then if I kind of lift one, I can fly north of 340.”
With ball speeds over 190 miles an hour, @B_Matthews12 is a force to be reckoned with off the tee.
— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) March 4, 2020
He hits it so far, in fact, that two out of the last three weeks he took driver out of the bag on tighter tracks.
“It’s just so painful to do because for me, I’ve been hitting my driver so well for the past few years,” Matthews said.
He confirmed he will be swinging the big stick this week at TPC Potomac at Avenel Farms in Potomac, Maryland, not far from the nation’s capital, in what may feel a lot like a home game for him.
“This is probably the closest event to Philadelphia and Scranton that I’ve ever played in, so it’s going to be really exciting to see the amount of people come down and support me,” said Matthews, who noted that his fiancée and father will both be in attendance. “I’ve already got a thousand texts about people coming down and wishing me luck.”
Matthews, who won twice on PGA Tour Latinoamérica en route to winning the circuit’s 2020-21 Order of Merit, posted a runner-up and victory in back-to-back weeks in February on the Korn Ferry Tour. In winning in Bogota, he closed with a birdie-birdie-eagle finish to grab the title by one stroke.
Matthews is probably best-known for a tournament he didn’t win. Battling in a playoff for the Argentine Open, and a corresponding spot in the 2020 British Open, Matthews missed an eight-foot birdie putt on the fourth playoff hole when a yell from the crowd disturbed him. When told it was a fan with Down’s Syndrome, Matthews went and embraced the fan and signed him a glove.
“I had a friend, Matt Ryan, down there that literally came up to me afterwards and he said, ‘This is going to be great for you.’ I’m like, ‘Matt, we’re in Buenos Aires, Argentina, I just did that because it’s the right thing to do. No one’s going to pick this up,’” Matthews recalled.
What an incredible honor to be able to get the chance to compete in the @APinv as my first PGA tour event. Words can’t describe how grateful I am for this opportunity. I cannot wait to tee it up next week! Thank you to everyone for the incredible support as always. https://t.co/BJqifniHoZ
— Brandon Matthews (@B_Matthews12) February 27, 2020
He couldn’t have been more wrong. His response went viral and he ended up earning a sponsor’s invite to the 2020 Arnold Palmer Invitational.
Matthews’ game continues to trend in the right direction. This week amounts to a dress rehearsal before his eventual promotion to the big time for his rookie campaign in 2022-23.
“I can’t wait to do this consistently on a weekly basis, get out here full time,” he said. “Maybe we can fast-track it out here this week.”