Tom finds his form to complete dream week
WALES: Friday, July 30th
FORMAT: 36-hole strokeplay/ 5 rounds of matchplay
Patience was definitely a virtue for new Wales Amateur champion Tom Matthews as his season turned around in five days at Pyle & Kenfig.
The 21-year-old has been struggling to compete this year but his game plan to rack up the pars and grind his way to victory worked beautifully as he secured the biggest title of his life.
On the eve of the event a lesson with his coach Jason Davies also proved pivotal and working on a longstanding issue helped things click into place.
“My left arm can separate from my chest so we worked a lot on ‘the glove under the left arm’ drill,” said Tom, who now plays out of Aldersey Green, where he is a greenkeeper.
“My plan was to hit fairways and hit greens and get pars and wait for my opponent to make mistakes. But I also wanted to go out and enjoy it.”
Tom, who is also a member at Oswestry and Conwy, beat local favourite David Phillips 3&1 in the 36-hole final with brother Harri caddying for him.
“Before the final Harri and I were talking about how the pressure was all on the other player,” added Tom
“I knew I was more than good enough to get to this final and it was about sticking to the plan.
“Towards the end the crowd was getting bigger and when he (Phillips) did well they would erupt.”
There was certainly plenty of noise around the tenth green when the 34-year-old Pyle & Kenfig first team captain holed a birdie putt to get back to one down with eight to go.
In the afternoon Tom has surged into a two-hole lead by winning three, five and six and re-established his two-hole cushion at 11 but then lost the next to leave the final on a knife-edge.
After 13 and 14 were halved, Tom put himself in a strong position by winning the long par three 15th and then navigated the two-tier green at 16 superbly from three-putt territory.
With his opponent needing to win the last two to force extra holes, Tom found the fairway with an iron on 17 while the home player sent his driver into a fairway bunker and then, having splashed out on to the fairway, put his third into a green-side trap.
With the Aldersey player on in two, Phillips finally found the short stuff in four and the concession quickly followed.
The final was Tom’s fifth matchplay contest in three days and the first time he had avoided going to the 18th.
In the semi-final he knocked out favourite James Ashfield. The Delamere Forest player had qualified for the matchplay rounds in second after registered his third inward nine of 29 in as many weeks. His second round 64 meant he finished one behind leading qualifier Luke Harries (Tenby) on two under.
A further 11 shots back was Tom, who was one shot under the cut line after rounds of 77 and 74.
But he took care of No 3 seed Callam Morris (Newport) in the first round by two holes and reached the quarter-finals with a one-hole success over Llanwern’s Michael Powell.
Talented junior Jamie Dean (Carmarthen) looked to have his number as he was two up with four to play but Tom won 15, 16 and 17 and then 18 was halved to book his place in the semi-finals and again he held his nerve down the last to eliminate Ashfield and set up the biggest victory of his career.