Brooke Matthews

A redshirt junior at the University of Arkansas, Brooke Mathews resumed her 2020 collegiate season with a victory at The Blessings Collegiate Invitational, opening with rounds of 67-66 en route to a five-stroke triumph. She followed that with a runner-up showing at The Ally. She also advanced to the round of 32 at the U.S. Women’s Amateur.

Matthews, 22, also capitalized on her first career LPGA appearance at the NW Arkansas Championship, closing with rounds of 69-67 to finish T-49 in her hometown of Rogers, Ark.

Matthews was a competitive gymnast and played softball before turning to golf at age 12.

It’s that time of year again, when college coaches hold their breath to see what kind of team they’ll have in the spring. Right now, Arkansas has a College Player of the Year contender in Brooke Matthews on the roster. But she could be a card-carrying LPGA member by Christmas, which would be akin to losing the star quarterback right before the bowl game.

Matthews, 23, made the cut on the number last week to advance to LPGA Q-Series in December, where 45 players will earn LPGA status. She flew straight from Florida to Mississippi to compete in The Ally for the Razorbacks, wrapping up seven consecutive days of competition.

“It’s kind of a win-win for me,” said Matthews, “that’s how I look at it. Either I come back to Arkansas where I’m really happy, or I live out my dream playing professional golf.”

Matthews grew up with the LPGA playing almost quite literally in her backyard. Wendy Ward and Vicki Goetze-Ackerman stayed with her family when the tour first came to Rogers, Arkansas, and set up shop at their home course, Pinnacle Country Club. Matthews was a dedicated gymnast at the time but said that week left a huge impression.

“I really wanted to be out there,” she said. “I couldn’t understand why.”

By age 12, Matthews had given up gymnastics and started playing tournament golf, outdriving most kids from the start. At Stage II of Q-School, Matthews made a pair of eagles in the third round on two par-5s, hitting an 8-iron into one for her second shot.

When she arrived at Arkansas as a freshman, Matthews’ swing speed hovered around 101 mph. Now as a fifth-year senior, she’s comfortably up to 107 but can push it to 110/111 on TrackMan.

Even so, it would take a special wallop to get one past former teammate Maria Fassi.

“I’m fine with admitting that she would outdrive me,” said Matthews with a laugh.

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