It is sometimes said the secret to sporting success is to find your form at the right time, which is exactly what happened to new champion Tom Matthews at this year’s Welsh Amateur Championship at rugged Pyle & Kenfig.
By his own admission, the 21-year-old Matthews – who works as a greenkeeper at his home club, Aldersey Green Golf Club in Cheshire – came into the championship in a bit of a rut. His mother might have been confident enough to book digs for the whole week, but for Matthews himself making the cut seemed a more realistic goal.
“Up to this point this season hasn’t gone very well,” said the former Welsh Boys’ team member after beating Pyle & Kenfig’s own David Phillips, 3 and 1, in the final.
“It was almost a wipeout. I had no expectations whatsoever. I was just trying to make the cut and at one point even that was not looking promising.”
Matthews achieved that first goal when he carded rounds of 77 and 74 to make it into the match-play stage right on the mark. That seemed to be the catalyst he needed to spur him into action.
“I hope it will give me more belief going into the bigger events in the future."
He beat Newport Gwent’s Callam Morris by two holes in the first round and then Llanwern’s Michael Powell by one hole in the second. Two more one-hole victories followed against Carmarthen’s Jamie Dean and Welsh International James Ashfield, from Delamere Forest, before clinching the biggest victory of his career against Phillips.
“When I made the cut, my brother Harri, who was caddying for me, said it was a different ball game from then on,” Matthews said. “It seemed different not having a card in my hand. I was just trying to make fewer mistakes than my opponents.
“In the final I felt strangely relaxed. David was the home player with all the support around him.
“Initially, when we shook hands at the end, it didn’t really sink in. It was only when I was walking away with my mum, dad and brother, that I started to realise I had just won one of the biggest events in Welsh golf. Up until then, I would say my greatest honour in golf was being selected for the Wales teams, but this means more.
“Patience and effort have definitely paid off,” he added.
“I hope it will give me more belief going into the bigger events in the future. I would love to get into the Wales men’s team for the Home Internationals. That was one of my goals at the start of the year, but it was beginning to look a bit doubtful.”
That place is almost assured but in the meantime it’s back to cutting greens at Aldersey Green, where his coach, Jason Davies, is also based.
“I work from 7 in the morning until 3 in the afternoon and then, after that, I can work on my golf until 9 or 10 at night,” he said. “At least, with Jason there, I don’t have to travel to practise or see my coach. It works very well, and they have all been very good to me.”
At the start of the week the qualifiers were headed by Welsh International Luke Harries from Tenby who carded rounds of 73 and 66 to clinch a slender one-shot victory over Ashfield on 3-under-par 139. Harries went on to beat Llanishen’s Owain Taylor in the first round before succumbing to Royal Porthcawl’s Matt Roberts on the 19th hole in the second.