Brandon Matthews, using all the psychology and intelligence he has so far absorbed at Temple University, shot a 6-under-par 66 Friday to grab the first-round lead in the Dixie Amateur’s men’s golf championship being held at the TPC Eagle Trace course and the Heron Bay course in Coral Springs.
"I felt comfortable out there," said Matthews, who birdied the 12th, 13th, and 14th holes to take command. "I was hitting it pretty tight."
That’s putting it mildly. His round included seven birdies, 10 pars and one bogey — and one of those birdies was a near-miss eagle.
Matthews started playing golf at one or two years of age using plastic clubs. "I don’t think I ever broke anything," he said, but not sounding real sure about that. What he does remember is getting his first "real clubs" at age 4.
Now he has a real game to go with those real clubs.
Matthews played on the Eagle Trace course Friday, the tougher of the two courses, and said that lately, "I’ve been hitting it great. I just need to keep it up."
At Temple, Matthews is studying adult organizational development, which he describes as "psychology oriented."
And anything psychology oriented works quite well in golf since that’s a major part of the game.
"It’s 90 percent mental," Matthews said of golf. "You really have to focus on the mental part of what you’re doing."
Matthews holds a one-stroke lead over Quinlan Prchal and Drew Czuchry, who both posted 67.
▪ South Beach International Amateur: Benign weather conditions allowed golfers to attack the courses at Miami Beach Golf Club and Normandy Shores Golf Club in the opening round.
The tournament, ranked as the 14th-best amateur event in the world, lived up to its international status as Richard James, 23, of Wales shot a 6-under 65 at the Miami Beach course.
Because Normandy Shores is a par-70 compared to Beach’s par-71, University of North Carolina golfer Ben Griffin and Oglethorpe University’s Anthony Maccaglia of Tampa are considered to be one back with their 5-under 65s on the Normandy layout.
The field includes 210 players with 70 of the world’s top 600 competing.
▪ Doral-Publix Junior Classic: The tournament features 43 countries and 27 states represented at Trump National Doral. On Friday, it concluded its 13-under portion of the tournament.
In the 7-under age group, the boys’ winner was Jessy Huebner, with the girls’ champion Morgan Rodriguez.
In the 8-9 flight, Justin Bjornson won the boys’ title, and Vanessa Borovilos was the girls’ winner.
In the 10-11 division, Nicklas Staub won the boys’ title, and Skylee Shin the girls’ championship.
In the 12-13 division, Canon Claycomb was the boys’ winner, with Victoria Monod capturing the girls’ title in a playoff with Cordelia Lopez.
The first round of the 14-over competition starts Sunday.