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Jon Mathias has been highly-regarded amateur in the Texas golf scene for a number of years, but in 2007 he seemed to turn a corner, finishing third in the state in the amateurgolf.com - Bridgestone Golf Player Rankings with a pair of major victories and a host of top finishes.
For Mathias, a 34-year-old Air Force flight instructor who lives in San Antonio, it was the culmination of several factors that slowly built up his confidence to a point where Mathias is a factor in any statewide tournament and a fair share of national majors.
The first confidence boost came in 2005 when Mathias, then stationed in Hawaii, qualified for the Sony Open, held at the Waialae Country Club. After carding an opening-round 81, he came back with a second-round 69. He missed the cut by eight strokes, but realized that his second-day score was the same as the eventual champ (Vijay Singh), meaning that he could hold his own against some of the best in the world.
"That made me realize that even when I didn't play my best, when things were down, I remember that I shot a 69, on that course, set up for the pros," said Mathias.
In 2006, Mathias' game was buoyed again when he was selected for the U.S. State Team Championship along with fellow Lone Star stalwarts Terrence Miskell and Trip Kuehne. Although he didn't contribute to the final days' score, Mathias' 69-72 through the first to days helped his squad record a one-stroke victory over Georgia. He finished the season ranked 10th in the state according to the amateurgolf.com - Bridgestone Golf Player Rankings.
The final piece may have fallen into place in 2007 when he made some slight swing adjustments that sent his game to new heights..
"I met up with Mike Lamanna, who was a master instructor at LaCantera (in San Antonio) and is now at The Phoenician (in Scottsdale)," said Mathias. "I made some small changes to my spine angle, hips, angle of attack. I hit the ball better, putted better, but more important was the confidence."
That confidence led to major victories in Harvey Penick Invitational (his second straight) and the Carlton Woods Invitational. He qualified for a pair of USGA championships (the PubLinx and Mid-Am) won the Texas Mid-Am Match Play and placed in the top-10 in five more state events, eventually becoming being named the South Regional Player-of-the-Year by the Texas Golf Association.
With the 2008 season just getting under way Mathias put together three solid rounds at the Greystone Invitational, finished T-14, then took a T-4 at the Carlton Woods Invitational.