Matteson Calculating His Way to the PGA Tour

By Alison PierceJune 30, 2005, 4:00 pm
Troy Matteson is a numbers guy. With sun bleached red hair and freckles scattered across his cheeks, the No. 2 ranked Nationwide Tour player doesnt look a day older than 20. But take a closer look and youll swear hes been out on the golf course a lot longer. Matteson has a focus, a calmness, a quiet that is distinct from other players.
 
On the practice tee, a day before the Lake Erie Charity Classic where hes poised to take the top spot on the money list, Matteson methodically drives one ball after another at a pinpointed target. Each shot is practiced as part of a solution. He keeps one low as if to cut under the wind, he practices his draw around a potential hazard, he fades it ever so slightly to the exact distance.

Troy Matteson
Troy Matteson has 8 top 10s in 13 starts on the Nationwdie Tour in 2005.
The numbers come naturally to Matteson. A graduate of Georgia Tech University with a Civil Engineering degree, Matteson likes to fix a problem. In fact, if he werent out here launching himself to the PGA Tour, he would be an engineer building bridges or roads, something useful to be proud of, he says.

Engineering is about having a problem and figuring out how to break it down. You need to come up with a game plan, a solution, and execute it, he says.
 
Matteson approaches golf the same way. In an engineering sense, he comes up with a cost-effective way to play each new course. For instance this week on the upper course at Peak n Peak resort, the 17th hole tees are set back making the green unreachable in two. Mattesons strategy is to play up the 12th fairway instead. Sometimes you have to go off the beaten path to play for birdie. A lot of it is seeing what youve got that week. Im very good at strategy.
 
Matteson was raised in the soft hills of Anderson County Tennessee and swung his first golf club at age seven. His dad brought a set home just to see if his two boys would take to the sport. Within weeks they were hitting balls into the sweet old ladys yard next door. She would keep all the balls in a bucket for us so we could go get em and hit them back in her yard again, says Matteson.
 
Fellow Nationwide Tour member Bubba Watson played golf at the University of Georgia against Matteson, who was the first Georgia Tech player to win the NCAA individual championship in 2002. We didnt like each other Watson laughs, quickly admitting that Troy was a really nice guy. You can tell he loves the numbers, he wants everything to be precise. He definitely wont hit until hes ready.
 
Matteson admits to loving not only the numbers, but the game. He hasnt missed a single week on tour, finishing in the top ten in eight out of 13 starts.
 
Not a whole lot of pranks and jokes and what not with him, says Watson. He probably watches the news more than I do.
 
One thing everyone can agree on is that Matteson is a quiet, reserved guy. Kip Henley of Big Break II fame had the chance to play with Matteson at the Chattanooga Celebrity Skins Game in May. Everything about Troy is understated but his golf game, says Kip. He is the quietest person youll meet, so focused, goes about his work. Kip wrote on his web site journal for The Golf Channel that Troy is quieter than a mouse peeing on cotton.
 
Matteson was eager to explain why he keeps things cool - its about respect. Im a young player out here, says Matteson, Others have played out here for years. I hold a lot of respect for the older guys. I havent earned the right to say a whole lot. Matteson says he will let his playing speak for itself.
 
But you watch, Kip Henley announces. Hell be in the top 50 in three years, you watch.
 
Jason Gore, who had his own taste of big time pressure at the U.S. Open, agrees, Hes the perfect player for the (PGA) Tour, says Gore. Very serious about his golf.
 
Matteson, not one to get excited, has taken his dramatic success in stride. He says the main reason hes risen so fast, from 52nd in his rookie year 2004, to seond this year, is that he found his comfort zone. The first year was tough, he says I was a little lost/ Everything is new, you dont know where you are when youre visiting a new town every week.
 
With that added comfort comes confidence. Ive become a little better putter, hit the ball better and all those parts add up. Matteson says that he and his wife Shauna who tours with him every week, are thrilled with the unique experience of traveling the country together. The two had their 2nd anniversary on June 21. Shauna has even learned to navigate the 36 and a half foot RV they drive to each tournament.
 
Golf analysts compare Mattesons stride this year to Zach Johnsons record year in 2003. The ever-humble Matteson shrugs it off. I dont know if its quite at that level, Ive got a long way to go. He says he wishes that Chris Couch were playing this week, the current Nationwide money leader Couch has a PGA Tour exemption this week. Matteson doesnt want to take over No. 1 without the top guy even playing. Its kind of like winning on a forfeit. Its fun to compete but I hope he plays great this week, says Matteson.
 
Although his PGA Tour card is pretty much in the bag, Matteson doesnt know quite what to expect next year. He says hed just like to become a consistent player on the big tour, but he admits, As time passes your goals jump up a little bit. Hopefully in two or three years Ill be able to say I want to win a tournament on the PGA Tour.
 
Related Links:
Troy Matteson's Bio
Full Coverage - Lake Erie Charity Classic at Peek n Peak Resort
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McIlroy growing 'comfortable' on Open courses

By Ryan LavnerJuly 18, 2018, 1:45 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – For a player who once complained about the vagaries of links golf, Rory McIlroy enters this Open with a dazzling record in the sport’s oldest championship.

Though he missed the 2015 event because of an ankle injury, McIlroy has now posted three consecutive top-5 finishes in the year’s third major.

“It’s surprising a little bit that my best form in major championships has been this tournament,” he said Wednesday, “but at the same time I’ve grown up these courses, and I’m comfortable on them. I think going to courses on The Open rota that I’ve played quite a lot. I think that helps. You have a comfort level with the golf course, and you’ve built up enough experience to know where to hit and where not to hit it.”


Full-field tee times from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


McIlroy still regrets what happened in 2015, when he “did something slightly silly” and injured his ankle while playing soccer a few weeks before the event. That came a year after he triumphed at Royal Liverpool.

“Since 2010, I couldn’t wait to play The Open at St. Andrews,” he said. “I thought that was one of my best chances to win a major.”

He tied for 42nd at Carnoustie in 2007, earning low-amateur honors.  

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Height of irony: Phil putts in front of 'rules' sign

By Grill Room TeamJuly 18, 2018, 1:36 pm

A picture is worth 1,000 words and potentially two strokes for playing a moving ball under Rule 14-5 but not Rule 1-2.

Phil Mickelson has been having some fun during his Open prep at Carnoustie hitting flop shots over human beings, but the irony of this photo below is too obvious to go over anyone's head.

Mickelson also tried tapping down fescue two weeks ago at The Greenbrier, incurring another two-shot penalty.

And so we're left to wonder about what Phil asked himself back at Shinnecock Hills: "The real question is, ‘What am I going to do next?’”

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Rory looking for that carefree inner-child

By Ryan LavnerJuly 18, 2018, 1:28 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Eleven years later, Rory McIlroy cringes at the photo: the yellow sweater with the deep V-neck, the chubby cheeks and the messy mop that curled under his cap.

“You live and you learn,” he said Wednesday, offering a wry smile.

The last time McIlroy played at a Carnoustie Open, in 2007, he earned the Silver Medal as the low amateur. He tied for 42nd, but the final result had mattered little. Grateful just to have a spot in the field, courtesy of his European Amateur title, he bounced along the fairways, soaking up every moment, and lingered behind the 18th green as one of his local heroes, Padraig Harrington, battled one of his favorite players, Sergio Garcia. Waiting for the trophy presentation, he passed the time playing with Padraig’s young son, Paddy. On Wednesday, McIlroy spotted Paddy, now 15, walking around Carnoustie with his three-time-major-winning father.

“He’s massive now – he towers over me,” he said. “It’s so funny thinking back on that day.”

But it’s also instructive. If there’s a lesson to be learned from ’07, it’s how carefree McIlroy approached and played that week. He was reminded again of that untroubled attitude while playing a practice round here with 23-year-old Jon Rahm, who stepped onto each tee, unsheathed his driver and bombed away with little regard for the wind or the bounce or the fescue. McIlroy smiled, because he remembers a time, not too long ago, that he’d attack a course with similar reckless abandon.


Full-field tee times from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


“I just think, as you get older, you get a little more cautious in life,” said McIlroy, 29. “I think it’s only natural. There’s something nice about being young and being oblivious to some stuff. The more I can get into that mindset, the better I’ll play golf.”

And so on the eve of this Open, as he approaches the four-year anniversary of his last major title, McIlroy finds himself searching for a way to channel that happy-go-lucky 18-year-old who was about to take the world by storm, to tap into the easygoing excellence that once defined his dominance.

It’s been a year since he first hinted at what he’s been missing. Last year’s Open at Royal Birkdale was the final event of his long run with caddie J.P. Fitzgerald. The chief reason for the split, he said, had nothing to do with some of the questionable on-course decisions, but rather a desire to take ownership of him game, to be freed up alongside one of his best friends, Harry Diamond.

That partnership has produced only one victory so far, and over the past few months, McIlroy has at times looked unsettled between the ropes. It’s difficult to compute, how someone with seemingly so much – a résumé with four majors, a robust bank account, a beautiful wife – can also appear disinterested and unmotivated.

“I think sometimes I need to get back to that attitude where I play carefree and just happy to be here,” he said. “A golf tournament is where I feel the most comfortable. It’s where I feel like I can 100 percent be myself and express myself. Sometimes the pressure that’s put on the top guys to perform at such a level every week, it starts to weigh on you a little bit. The more I can be like that kid, the better.”

It’s a decidedly different landscape from when the erstwhile Boy Wonder last won a major, in summer 2014. Jordan Spieth had won just a single Tour event, not three majors. Dustin Johnson wasn’t world No. 1 but merely a tantalizing tease, a long-hitting, fast-living physical freak who was just beginning a six-month break to address "personal challenges." Two-time U.S. Open champion Brooks Koepka hadn’t even started playing in the States.  

McIlroy’s greatest asset, both then and now, was his driving – he put on clinics at Congressional and Kiawah, Hoylake and Valhalla. He was a mainstay at or near the top of the strokes gained: tee to green rankings, but over the past few years, because of better technology, fitness and coaching, the gap between him and the rest of the field has shrunk.

“I think at this stage players have caught up,” Harrington said. “There’s many players who drive the ball comparable and have certainly eaten into that advantage. Rory is well on pace to get into double digits with majors, but it has got harder. There’s no doubt there’s more players out there who are capable of having a big week and a big game for a major. It makes it tough.”

It’s not as though McIlroy hasn’t had opportunities to add to his major haul; they’ve just been less frequent and against stronger competition. In the 13 majors since he last won, he’s either finished in the top 10 or missed the cut in 11 of them. This year, he played in the final group at the Masters, and was on the verge of completing the career Grand Slam, before a soul-crushing 74 on the last day. His U.S. Open bid was over after nine holes, after an opening 80 and a missed cut during which he declined to speak to reporters after both frustrating rounds.

“I’m trying,” he said Wednesday. “I’m trying my best every time I tee it up, and it just hasn’t happened.”

A year after saying that majors are the only events that will define the rest of his career, he recently shrugged off the doom and gloom surrounding his Grand Slam drought: “It doesn’t keep me up at night, thinking, If I never won another major, I can’t live with myself.”

Eleven years ago, McIlroy never would have troubled himself with such trivial questions about his legacy. But perhaps a return to Carnoustie, to where his major career started, is just what he needs to unlock his greatness once again.

 

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Own history, grow the game with Open memorabilia auction

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 18, 2018, 1:00 pm

Get a piece of history and help grow the game, that's what The Open is offering with its memorabilia auction.

The official Open Memorabilia site features unique Open assets from famous venues and Champion Golfers of the Year. All net proceeds received by The R&A from this project will be invested to support the game for future generations, including encouraging women’s, junior and family golf, on the promotion and progression of the sport in emerging golf nations and on coaching and development.

Items for auction include limited edition prints of Champion Golfers of the Year, signed championship pin flags and limited edition historical program covers. Memorable scorecard reproductions and caddie bibs are also available to bid for on the website, with all items featuring branded, serialized holograms for authenticity.

Click here to own your piece of history and to get more information on the auction.