Sport Arkansas' Brooke Matthews, who recently smashed an NCAA scoring record, looks to make more noise in hometown LPGA event

18:00  24 september  2021
18:00  24 september  2021 Source:   golfweek.com

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Brooke Matthews grew up with the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship. She’s not just a Razorback golfer. She’s a Rogers High School graduate and Pinnacle Country Club member who will have family, friends and neighbors out in full force to cheer her on just nine days after she set an NCAA scoring record. Matthews, 23, scorched the field at the Cougar Classic at Yeamans Hall Club in South Carolina with a 25-under 191 total, blasting the previous 54-hole record of 19 under.

2021 U.S. Women's Amateur © Provided by Golfweek 2021 U.S. Women's Amateur

She shot 63-64-64 to win by 13 strokes.

“During the presentation, when they told me the record I was like, ‘Wow, that’s crazy,’ ” said Matthews. “That’s bigger than something I could have thought I would’ve accomplished in college golf, so it was really cool.”

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2021 Curtis Cup © File photo 2021 Curtis Cup

USA Team member Brooke Matthews smiles after hitting her tee shot on hole six during the Foursomes match against Great Britain and Ireland Team at the 2021 Curtis Cup at Conwy Golf Club in North Wales, United Kingdom on Friday, Aug. 27, 2021. (Oisin Keniry/USGA)

There are seven University of Arkansas ties in the 2021 field – four graduates (Maria Fassi, Stacy Lewis, Gaby Lopez and Alana Uriell) and three current students (Corey Lopez, Matthews and Monday qualifier Kajal Mistry). Matthews, a redshirt senior, tied for 49th in the event last year.

“She’s basically grown up with this tournament,” said Lewis. “I think Wendy Ward stayed with her and her family when she was younger. I can’t imagine for her what this week is going to be like, and to be playing at home and to be a Razorback.”

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Lewis, a former World No. 1, won the inaugural Walmart NW Arkansas Championship in 2007 as an amateur, though it didn’t count as an official win because bad weather shortened it to one round. She won it again officially in 2014.

Razorbacks have been cutting their teeth at the event since its inception.

“It’s a tremendous recruiting tool to know that you get an opportunity to play in the event as an exemption,” said Lewis, “but also the Monday qualifying spots and just the access to professional golf and what it entails. There is no other university that has the access like this.

“I think it’s meant the world to our golf team.”

The long-bombing Matthews said she realized last spring that if she wanted to make it on the next level that she’d need to put more work into her short game. She tied for 10th at Stage I of LPGA Q-School the week prior to representing the U.S. in the Curtis Cup.

“In an ideal world I would take some momentum into Q-Series,” said Matthews, who noted that she will first compete in the Blessings Collegiate Invitational, which she won last year, in Arkansas before heading to Stage II of Q-School in Florida.

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Lewis said Matthews’ 54-hole NCAA scoring record certainly got the attention of tour players, noting that Austin Ernst, last year’s winner in Arkansas, asked her “Did you see what Brooke Matthews shot?”

“I think the coolest part about (Matthews),” said Lewis, “is she just hasn’t played her best golf yet.”

– Julie Williams contributed


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