GOLF: Third-round struggles drop Matthews out of contention at U.S. Open

·5 min read

Jun. 19—A day that started with promise and a burst of momentum turned as quickly as the blowing winds at the U.S. Open.

Dupont's Brandon Matthews made birdie on the first hole to pull within four shots of the lead, tied for 16th at The Country Club in Brookline, Massachusetts.

By the time a disappointing Saturday afternoon ended, Matthews signed for a 9-over par 79, plummeting to a five-way tie for 58th among the 64 players who made the cut.

Brimming with confidence despite being near the bottom of fairways hit and greens in regulation, Matthews did both on the

498-yard opening hole, ripping his tee shot 370 yards and dropping his wedge shot inside 10 feet.

When he canned the birdie putt, it pushed Matthews into red numbers and fostered hopes he was ready to make a move on the leaderboard.

By the time the front nine was in the books, that move was headed in the wrong direction.

"I hit it great for the first 11 holes of the day," Matthews said. "I really didn't mishit a golf shot at all. Misjudged the wind, made some bad club selections which led to, at the end of the day, bogeys, but also missed a few putts.

"To be 4 over after that, at that point, it was a little frustrating. I'm obviously never going to give up, but it just got to the point where it was going through the motions a little bit more. Trying to stay in it, but this is my sixth week in a row playing golf. Tired. Sore. It was cold out there. It was really windy. I definitely wasn't fully vested in it coming down the stretch on the back nine."

He missed the green on a blind approach shot to the par-4 third — winds blowing steadily at 15 mph and gusting close to 30 didn't help his cause — and couldn't save par.

He'd done that regularly, making just four bogeys through two rounds despite hitting 22 of 36 greens in regulation.

Those putts inside 10 feet that dropped in the first two rounds stopped falling, attempts on Nos. 3 and 4 that were off the mark leading to bogeys that pushed him back to 1-over par.

"I never should have really been in position to miss those putts because I hit it almost exactly where I wanted to for 11 straight holes," Matthews said.

"He scrambled to get up-and-down from 120 yards on No. 5 to save par, but missed the green on the par-3 sixth and his 10-footer missed, leaving him with a third bogey in four holes.

His 156-yard approach to No. 7 finished in the front, greenside bunker, but he holed a 14-footer to save par, and made a putt of a similar length for par on No. 8.

From 182 yards on No. 9, Matthews again found a bunker and couldn't hole the 10-footer for par, slipping to 3 over at the turn.

A 334-yard tee shot and a solid iron to 23 feet led to a two-putt par at No. 10, only to catch a terrible break on the par-3 11th.

Trying to knock down a wedge on the 141-yard hole, his ball hopped twice on the green, then carried long and down an embankment.

"Hit a perfect golf shot," Matthews said. "It was two steps right of the flag, which is exactly where I wanted to hit it. That ball was supposed to hit seven to eight steps short of the pin and it landed two or three steps past that.

"That's a 10-yard difference from what we envisioned. Same thing happened on No. 9. Hit a perfect golf shot on 9, hit a perfect golf shot on 7, a perfect golf shot on 4, on 3, on 2. It was really good golf shot after really good golf shot after really good golf shot and not getting rewarded for a single one besides the first hole."

Matthews took a mighty cut to try to get the ball out of the thick rough on No. 11, but the ball stopped on the upslope about 30 feet from the hole.

The downhill chip settled 9 feet past the hole, and he drilled it for bogey.

Missing the fairway left on No. 12, Matthews found heavy rough near the television cables and could only advance it to the second cut of rough 20 yards from the flagstick. That shot went long and following another chip and two putts, Matthews walked away with a disappointing double bogey.

He bogeyed three of the final four holes, including a 5 on the par-4, 358-yard 17th after knocking his drive out of bounds, reloading and belting the ball through the back of the green.

That proved to be of little consolation as he bogeyed the final hole, tying for the highest round of the day.

"I could understand if I had a bad day and just didn't have it, but I felt like I was comfortable out there," Matthews said. "Settled in nice and obviously started out really well. I felt like I kind of had it and that was the frustrating part. I played really, really nice golf throughout the majority of today's round and it felt like every time I hit a good golf shot it didn't end up anywhere we thought it would."

Matthews and playing partner Sebastian Sodërberg of Sweden will tee off Sunday at 9 a.m., the second group onto the course.

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