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Oswestry golfer shortlisted for prestigious US College award

OSWESTRY Golf Club’s Tom Matthews has been shortlisted for a prestigious US College Golf Award.

The Eastern Florida State College scholar is one of just six golfers from across the whole of junior college golf in America to be put forward for the 2020 Jack Nicklaus National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) National Player of the Year Award.

The plus two handicapper explained: “It’s a great honour to be shortlisted for this award, and hopefully it is a stepping-stone to my dream of playing on the PGA Tour.

“It’s a big achievement for myself and the college. A lot of big names have won this award from Eastern Florida State College including Paul Azinger.”

It follows hot on the heels from his selection for the NJCAA All American team after he finished inside the top five in all six events that were held before the Coronavirus pandemic took hold and his season was cut short.

The 20-year-old won once, finished second three times and fourth twice and whilst the records look good he still felt he had more to give. “My game was in good shape, but I was leaving one or two shots a round out there, so I know I could have done more, given the chance,” explained the Manchester United fan who is currently back at his family home in Ruabon, Wrexham.

Matthews, who has represented Shropshire & Herefordshire as well as Wales, was introduced to the game at the tender age of six by his dad Rhys. He came up through the ranks at Oswestry Golf Club where their Junior Programme has produced some exceptional golfers over the years.

When in the US he lived in Viera Florida, on the east coast. “College in America is a big thing for someone who is from outside the USA or Canada. You have to live on your own, shop for yourself, manage money for yourself, time manage yourself, get all your college work done from home. It’s a big challenge for most people, but a challenge I enjoy and I’ve made some good friends out there.”

Fate has dealt the second-year college junior an unfortunate blow, and despite him being confirmed to go on to Appalachian College to continue his golf at a senior college, the coronavirus pandemic has meant this option is no longer available to him. He has now been offered a place back at EFSC, but is reliant on the pandemic easing, so he is currently reviewing all options and practising hard.

“The season is pretty much cancelled due to the pandemic, we’ll have to see what next season brings.

“I built a net in the back yard at home during the lockdown so was able to hit balls and keep my swing in shape. I am currently looking for a job to earn some money so if I am able to go back to the USA for college I can help and cover some costs and help my parents out. I am on a part scholarship but some of my costs I still have to fund.”

Photo courtesy of EFSC.