A 12-foot-birdie putt was all that stood between pro golfer Brandon Matthews and a sudden-death playoff for only his second PGA tour win. But as he edged his club back from the ball, a man shouted out loudly in excitement. Matthews dragged the putt left, and with that, his dreams of a second tour trophy were dashed.
Understandably, Matthews was frustrated at his misfortune.
“I’d been putting really well all week, and I had no doubt that I was going to make the putt,” he said, according to Golf Digest. “At that stage, any minute noise resonates.”
“I gave it a little too much right hand, missed it and turned around and said, ‘Come on guys, seriously?!’ I was obviously frustrated about it.”
It was a tough break, for sure, not least because Brandon’s failure to win the tournament meant he missed out on a place at the British Open. But what happened next went far and beyond sporting success. As a deflated Matthews slumped into the locker room, a rules official rushed in and informed him that the man who shouted out had Down Syndrome. Immediately, Matthews dashed backed onto the course to seek him out and reassure him that there were no hard feelings.
“I wanted to make sure he didn’t feel badly about the situation,” the professional sportsman told Golf Digest. “I grew up around people with special needs because of what my mom did when I was kid and have a soft spot in my heart.”
Recounting the incident to Yahoo Sports, the compassionate athlete explained how the man in the gallery “said something and got excited” just as he was executing the critical stroke.
“There’s nothing you can do about that,” he added. “The guy was out there, he was enjoying it.”
Knowing how embarrassed he must have been, Matthews did the right thing — he caught up with him face-to-face and assured him it was nothing to feel bad about. He even gifted him a personally signed golf ball.
“I feel for the guy. I’m sure he felt terrible, that’s why I went and gave him a glove and a ball afterwards and gave him a hug,” he said. “It’s just one of those things that happens. Unfortunately, it was out of my control.”
Despite the bitter disappointment Matthews felt, he’s keeping a healthy perspective on the whole thing. Yes, professional sport is is a big part of his life, but it’s not everything.
“There are some things in life that are just bigger than golf,” Matthews added to PGATour.com. “And this was one of them.”
Whan a heartwarming moment. We wish Matthews all the best for his career!