Matthews betters best, Razorbacks protect lead

By: Drew Watzke, Special to the NWA Democrat-Gazette
Published: Wednesday, October 7, 2020
Brooke Matthews of Arkansas walks Tuesday, May 21, 2019, to the 16th green during her match with Letizia Bagnoli of Wake Forest in the Women's NCAA Golf Championship at Blessings Golf Club in Johnson.
( Andy Shupe)
Brooke Matthews of Arkansas walks Tuesday, May 21, 2019, to the 16th green during her match with Letizia Bagnoli of Wake Forest in the Women's NCAA Golf Championship at Blessings Golf Club in Johnson.

JOHNSON — Just when it looked like Brooke Matthews might have peaked, she proved to be even better.

The junior from Rogers bettered her first-round, personal-best 67 with a 66 on Tuesday to help the University of Arkansas to a 10-stroke lead in the Blessings Collegiate Invitational.

Matthews put an exclamation point on her round on No. 16, where she holed her second shot from the fairway for an eagle.

“Brooke knows this golf course really well,” Arkansas Coach Shauna Taylor said. “When she can get it rolling on the greens, she can shoot rounds like this. She played within herself, she was aggressive when she could be aggressive, but she also played away from hole locations when she could.

“She’s playing some fantastic golf right now.”

Matthews leads the individual medalist standings by five shots heading into today’s final round.

Matthews’ teammates remained steady as well, as Ela Anacona, Kajal Mistry and Julia Gregg all scored well, notching rounds of 1-under 71, 2-over 74 and 4-over 76, respectively.

The depth that Arkansas has shown is one of the main reasons the Hogs are on top, Taylor said.

“We have a really young team, but a really seasoned, competitive team,” Taylor said. “When we’ve made an error, we’ve been able to pick each other up and just really feed off of each other.”

The Arkansas men’s squad put together a solid round as well, with Argentines Manuel Lozada and Segunda Pinto scoring rounds of 2-over 74 and even-par 72. Pinto finished the round with back-to-back birdies to break even on the day.

The leaders going into Tuesday, the Tennessee Volunteers, struggled in round two. After posting a combined score of 8 under in round one, the Volunteers shot a combined 7 over Tuesday, dropping them from the top spot.

Alabama came alive on the back nine to shoot a combined 6 under and claim the lead on the men’s side. The Tide are at 3 under, two strokes ahead of Tennessee.

Arkansas is currently 14 strokes back of the lead, but just three strokes behind Texas A&M, who is sitting in fourth place.

“Things can change very quickly here,” Pinto said. “I think if I get a good round [tomorrow] and my teammates do as well, we’re going to be able to end up in the top 3, for sure.”

The women’s team will look to close it out today on its home course.

“We train on this golf course every day,” Taylor said. “We know what we need to do, so we’re just going to go out and execute our game plan, and I know if the girls do that then we’re going to be in a good spot coming down number 18.”

The Arkansas men’s squad tees off at 7:59 a.m. today, while the women will tee off at 10:33 a.m.

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