Matthews defeats Stewart in playoff for 109th Open ChampionshipPAOLI, Pa.βBrandon Matthewsβ summer to remember tour stopped at Waynesborough Country Club and the 109th Open Championship. It rolled out of town with a pair of crystal trophies and an exclusive position amongst Golf Association of Philadelphia icons.
Matthews, an 18-year-old amateur from Glenmaura National Golf Club, defeated professional Billy Stewart of Golf Galaxy (Devon, Pa.), in a four-hole aggregate score playoff, 15-17. Matthews, a rising Temple University sophomore, and Stewart finished the 36 holes of regulation at 2-under-par 140 on the yearβs hottest day.
Matthews joined R. Jay Sigel, William Hyndman, III and two-time reigning tournament champion Andrew Mason as the only players to win an Open the year after capturing the Patterson Cup. He also became a record fourth straight amateur to win the Open. (His two trophies were for the overall champion and low amateur.)
βIt means a ton, especially with Andrew winning the last two years. [We are] keeping it in the Temple [University] family,β said Matthews of Dupont, Pa. βIt means a lot to win this tournament. There are professionals and amateurs in it. Itβs nice to know I can compete on this level. Itβs really, really a fun thing to go out here, play well and know I can do it.β
Matthews has now won Golf Association of Philadelphia titles in each of the last three seasons. Last year he won the aforementioned Patterson Cup at Philadelphia Country Club. In 2011, Matthews secured the Junior Boysβ Championship.
Stewart received the $7,000 low professional prize.
The field consisted of 46 amateurs and 32 professionals.
Mason, an amateur when he won his two titles, did not compete this year. He turned professional in April and relocated to Florida.
Matthews drew national attention a month ago at the U.S. Open. He chipped in on the final hole of the Sectional Qualifier in Purchase, N.Y. to, at the time, secure an apparent spot at Merion Golf Club. He wound up an alternate. That alternate status secured him time on the U.S. Open practice range and his improbable chip-in regular replays on Golf Channel.
Matthewsβ dramatics continued Wednesday.
Knowing he needed a birdie on his final hole of regulation, (No. 9, par 4, 446 yards), to tie Stewart, Matthews knocked a 58-degree wedge from 124 yards to 10 feet. He drained the tying birdie putt and added a fist pump. A clutch effort considering Matthews had lingering memories of back-to-back missed 5-foot birdie tries on Nos. 7 (par 5, 547 yards) and 8 (par 4, 373 yards).
In the playoff, holes 6-9, Matthews gained the advantage from the start. A shaky putter suddenly turned into Mr. Reliable. Matthews one-putted each of the four-playoff greens, including three up-and-down par saves.
Matthews opened on No. 6 (par 3, 236 yards) with such after missing the green left. Stewartβs 4-iron came up short right but his six-foot par try stayed outside the hole. Matthews led 3-4.
The pair registered pars on No. 7 before Matthews, in essence, secured his second Major title in two years on the next hole. He lofted a pitching wedge from 134 yards to 15 feet. Stewart missed a six-footer for birdie. Matthews played his putt three cups outside left and watched it drop to the bottom of the jar.
Both players parred the final hole. Matthews took a conservative approach off the tee, and once his second shot cleared the trees and landed 10 yards from the green, the title was all but his.
βI just told myself to get putts to the hole,β said Matthews of his late-game putting heroics. βI hit so many good putts today that were right on line and came up a bit short. I just told myself to get a couple putts there and you can win this thing.β
Stewart, the 2002 GAP Amateur Champion, turned professional six years ago and spent time on a pair of Florida mini-tours. He returned to the area full-time last year and said he finally found a home in the Philadelphia Section of the PGA.
βI had lots of fun today. I love playing golf in Philadelphia,β said Stewart, 29, of Devon, Pa. βI feel like I have my best golf ahead of me. Iβm excited to be in the Philadelphia Section and share my knowledge with the younger generation.β
Pro Stu Ingraham of MGolf Driving Range led after the first round at 3 under. The 1994 Open Champion topped a crowded leaderboard that had 11 players at even-par or better after the first 18 holes.
Next yearβs Open is scheduled for Applebrook Golf Club.