Standout golfer Matthews finds Temple is a good fit

Brandon Matthews will play in a U.S. Open sectional qualifier next week.
Brandon Matthews will play in a U.S. Open sectional qualifier next week.
Posted: May 28, 2014

By his own admission, Brandon Matthews never has been a fan of cold weather. Given the fact that he can bash a golf ball more than 300 yards on average off the tee, he had a chance to attend any of a number of Southern universities coming out of high school in upstate Pennsylvania.

"I had contact with North Carolina, Mercer, Charleston Southern, a little bit of contact with LSU and Marshall," Matthews recalled.

He ended up choosing Temple, which is not even south of Philadelphia City Hall.

However, there were aspects of Temple that appealed to him. Owls coach Brian Quinn played for 17 years on professional tours around the world and is a swing instructor by vocation. The team plays a challenging schedule. And besides, what's wrong with a little time off when it's too cold to hit balls?

"Someday I want to make my money hopefully playing golf," the 6-foot-4, 200-pound Matthews, who just completed his sophomore season, said last week. "I just wanted to make sure I gave myself the best opportunity. Brian made me believe in what he had to say. Out of everyone I talked to or e-mailed back and forth, he really never pushed me.

"The way my coach explained it to me, a lot of kids in those Southern schools succeed but a lot of others get burned out because you don't give yourself time off. The time off we have here is actually very valuable. You get two months to relax and be a college student. It's important to have a balanced lifestyle."

Matthews, 19, said it usually takes about a month to get his game back after the winter, but he bounced back well this spring. He finished fourth in the American Athletic Conference championships, captured first-team all-conference honors and received an invitation to the NCAA Regionals.

Quinn, in his seventh season as Temple's head coach, said he sold Matthews on the quality of competition during the season, and the value of getting a rest from the game.

"It's nice to be able to embrace being a college student," Quinn said. "The break is a great thing for everyone. I also told him, as many balls as he hits, as big as he is, as much speed as he swings the club with, the wear and tear over a period of time that you put on your body takes a toll."

The last year has been a sensational one for Matthews. He won 2013 player of the year honors in the Golf Association of Philadelphia after winning the Philadelphia Open, the Patterson Cup and the Silver Cross. He capped off the summer by advancing to the quarterfinals of the U.S. Amateur.

In Temple's 12 tournaments during its split fall/spring schedule, he won once and finished in the top four in seven other events. He shot par or better in 19 of his 32 rounds and led the Owls in stroke average at 71.5.

Starting with next week's U.S. Open sectional qualifying in Purchase, N.Y., Matthews, who was an alternate last year at the Open at Merion, will embark this summer on a more national schedule that includes an international event, the British Amateur at Royal Portrush in Ireland beginning June 16.

Quinn said Matthews has worked hard on changing his swing the last two years, and it is now simpler and more efficient to where "it is incomprehensible how far he can hit a golf shot." The next steps are the short game, putting, and the mental side where "I'd like to see him take things a little bit lighter . . . He gets a little too tough on himself," Quinn said.

Matthews dreams of a career on the PGA Tour. As for leaving Temple early to pursue that goal, he said that might be possible if he can win a big event and receive exemptions in the way that Jordan Spieth did when he rocketed onto the tour last year.

"But as of right now," he said, "I'm kind of playing it by ear, trying to play good golf everywhere I go and kind of see what happens."


jjuliano@phillynews.com

@joejulesinq

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