Matthew Wolff did enough in Sunday’s successful TaylorMade Driving Relief charity match to prove he is a talent to watch for many years to come, writes ANDRE HUISAMEN.
Watching Rickie Fowler and young Matthew Wolff take on the current and former world No 1 at Seminole Golf Club brought a great deal of joy to golfing fans around the world on Sunday, including myself.
That the skins match became so tight and was forced into a shootout, provided the very same exhilarating feeling that makes us love the game so much, particularly late on a Sunday evening when it gets down to the business end.
Despite his inexperience and obvious nerves, the way Wolff went about his methods against players far more seasoned impressed me – it was even something the world No 1 quickly reminded him of early on. Watch: Rory gives Wolff friendly reminder
What made the contest interesting was that the 21-year-old almost had a free shot at challenging his opposing pair while endearing himself to Fowler, both of whom are Oklahoma State alumni.
Despite the competitive nature being quite visible throughout the day, Wolff had somewhat of a no-pressure environment of going head to head with them.
The fact that it was only the four of them going at it with millions of people around the world tuning in, maybe played a role in his jittery start but Wolff was mostly able to play his natural game without worrying about the factors which, under normal circumstances, would influence the final outcome.
There were some sloppy moments, yes, and some of his tee shots often went off into uncharted territory but to a great extent Wolff proved his worth.
Outdriving McIlroy doesn’t sit in everyone’s golf pants, especially not when the idea is to drive as far as possible to pick up a skin and he did just that. Twice.
His up-and-down on the 16th hole – with four skins on the line and the match in the balance – signifies his big-match temperament which he will need to harness when pro golf returns to the calendar.
It was also highly encouraging to see the way Fowler handled Wolff out on the course and the way he spoke to him throughout.
From letting him do the coin toss to hitting the first tee shot and then placing him on the spot in the playoff hole by saying: ‘Rise to the occasion. Show me something.’
I think that would’ve done a world of good to Wolff, not just for his shot that followed but for a positive moment banked for his entire career.
Ask any 21-year-old golfer currently on a circuit around the world how they would like to gain experience, this would be it.
Yet, there he was in a shootout contest against the world’s best player and a former one with the backing of Fowler.
That’s the type of confidence young athletes thrive off in modern-day sports; it only makes them better because they are determined to become the best. And beat the best.
Wolff only turned professional last year and having already secured one victory on the PGA Tour, it’s not his swing that is going to be drawing attention for the next two decades
Undoubtedly he’s got mountains worth of talent. Now, let’s give him the time and patience he deserves because he will get there.