Nicholas Mathews wins North Carolina Match Play Championship
Nicholas Mathews (Carolinas Golf Association)
Nicholas Mathews (Carolinas Golf Association)

NC State freshman Nicholas Mathews duked it out against East Carolina senior Tim Bunten for the 11th annual North Carolina Amateur Match Play Championship.

Mathews and Bunten had similar paths to the championship match. As the 18-seed, Mathews went 5&4, 2&1, 2 up, and 5&4 on his way through the lower half of the bracket. His biggest upset came in the second round as Mathews defeated 2-seeded Austin Bonfiglio 5&4.

Bunten, the 29-seed in the 32-man match-play event, opened the Round of 32 with a 2&1 win over 4-seed Garrett Risner. Following the upset with 1 up, 4&3, and 3&2 wins on his way to facing Mathews.

In Sunday’s championship match Mathews never trailed and allowed Bunten just three wins throughout the match. Kicking things off with a par on the first, Mathews took a 1 up advantage early. Alternating wins with Bunten on holes 2 and 3, Mathews grew upon his lead with three wins over holes 4 through 7. Taking a 4 up lead over Bunten into the backside, Mathews let him back into the match.

Bunten chipped away with wins on holes 10, 14, and 16 while earning halves on five of the last seven holes to get Mathews’ lead to just 1 up with two to play.

“I just did a great job staying focused, staying calm, and just trusting my game plan and fortunately it worked out,” Mathews told the Carolinas Golf Association. “Going into No. 17 I had a one-up lead and I just knew I needed to stay calm and keep doing what I was doing.”

He executed just as he had visualized making a par on the par-5 17th to claim a 2&1 victory.

“Anytime you get it done, and frankly anytime you play well coming down the stretch it’s always momentum and that momentum keeps you working hard,” Mathews said. “It’s something you call back on in times of pressure. I think it’s just validation that I’m doing the right stuff and it's just a matter of continuing to work hard and continuing to focus on what I need to do.”

Unfortunately for Mathews, that momentum will have to wait to be unleashed as the ACC announced last week that men’s and women’s golf will have to forego their fall seasons due to COVID-19. The earliest Mathews can hit the links for the Wolfpack will (hopefully) come in the spring of 2021.

View results for North Carolina Amateur Match Play

ABOUT THE North Carolina Amateur Match Play

Open to any male amateur golfer 13 and older. Must be a resident of North Carolina and a member of a CGA club with an index no greater than 9.9. Sectional qualifying is required for those who do not meet the exemption criteria. Format consists of 36 holes of stroke play qualifying followed by a cut to the low 32 players for match play.

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