If there’s a venue where a home-course advantage would serve a player well in college golf, it’s Blessings Golf Club. The course sunk its teeth into the best programs in the nation at the 2019 NCAA Championships, and it re-emerged this week as host of the first stop on a three-tournament SEC fall schedule.
That’s a good thing for Arkansas junior Brooke Matthews, who fired the best 18-hole round of her college career on Monday – a tournament-opening 67. She came back Tuesday with one lower, a 66 that instantly bettered Matthews’ personal best.
“Very comfortable out here, it’s my home course,” Matthews told the Golf Channel after the round. “I was just excited to come out here and see what I can do.”
Leaderboard: Blessings Collegiate Invitational
Matthews’ whole day consisted of fireworks. She had three birdies on the front, but really got going on the final stretch of holes. She played Nos. 13-18 in 5 under, which included birdies at Nos. 13, 15 and 17 and a hole-out for eagle on the par-4 16th hole.
Someone had to let her know it had gone in – she was temporarily blinded by the setting sun.
“Blessings is a golf course that you just have to be patient on,” Matthews said. “I wouldn’t say I got off to a bad start but a little bit of a slower start than I would have liked. You can’t force it out here, just have to wait for it to come to you and that’s what I did.”
Summer results suggested something like this was in store for Matthews. She teed it up in the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship, an in-town LPGA event revered by players on the Razorback roster. She made the cut and finished 49th there.
Matthews also made a run to the second round of match play at the U.S. Women’s Amateur in August.
On Tuesday, she gave Arkansas a big boost. With Matthews’ score leading them, the Razorbacks went 1 under as a team and piled on to what became a 10-shot lead on LSU, the next-best team on the board.
South Carolina is third at 16 over and Ole Miss is fourth at 21 over. The margin is also large on the individual leaderboard as Matthews leads LSU sophomore Ingrid Lindblad by five shots.