University of Arkansas Razorback Brooke Matthews (Rogers, Arkansas) is no stranger to red numbers. At the Cougar Classic in September, the 23-year-old went 63-64-64, carding a three-day total of 191, setting a new NCAA 54-hole scoring record at 25-under par. It was a complete obliteration of the previous benchmark of 19 under, an accomplishment that still renders Matthews speechless.
“The only thing I can say is that it was crazy,” she said. “I guess I just blacked out. I don't even know how it happened, to be honest. Just everything was going right. It was one of those weeks, driving it well, wedging it really well, and getting the putts to drop. I still don't even know what to say about it.”
Through two rounds at Plantation Golf & Country Club, Matthews found herself even on the week with scores of 71 and 73 and sitting at T-45, precariously perched on the bubble to advance to Q-Series. With two rounds left to lock up a spot, Matthews came to the third round with guns a-blazing, firing a 5-under 67 that was highlighted by two eagles and two birdies. She credits the experience derived from playing at Arkansas the last five years for preparing her for the magnitude of a moment like Stage II and believes that her maturation both on and off the golf course is a direct result of her time as a Razorback.
“I love it at Arkansas,” said Matthews. “I've had amazing coaches and teammates. This is my fifth year, so in the five years I've been there I've developed a lot on and off the golf course. Obviously, my golf game has gotten better, and off the golf course I feel like I've grown up a lot. I don't have enough nice things to say about Arkansas.”
Ahead of the final round, Matthews knows that she’s got it made no matter how the chips fall. While going pro is her ultimate goal, the option to continue in her fifth year of college is on the table and she takes the advice of former Razorback and LPGA Tour member Maria Fassi with her into Sunday, confident that everything will work out the way that it’s supposed to.
“Maria Fassi was my inspiration. She ended up staying. I think three and a half years was what it took her (to graduate). She was like college is something you never get to do again. The (LPGA) Tour is not going anywhere. College is fun. You get to have your best friends around. It's a year on someone else's bill, so why not do it? You really can't do anything differently (in the final round). Just play it like a normal tournament round, and wherever the numbers fall, the numbers fall. You can't force it out here, especially on courses like this. I am just going to go out there, warm up like I always do, and pretend like it's another round. I do it every week. Whatever happens, just keep working and I believe I'll get there when I'm supposed to get there.”