NEWBURGH, Ind. – The dogleg-right, par-4 18th hole at Victoria National GC plays to 432 yards on the scorecard.
The club’s famed finishing hole bends around a visually intimidating pond, with players picking their proverbial poison when determining an angle of attack off the tee.
The Korn Ferry Tour has competed at Victoria National since 2012, with no record of a player driving the green on No. 18.
That changed Friday at the Korn Ferry Tour Championship presented by United Leasing & Finance, as Brandon Matthews played boldly on his final hole. After a double bogey at the par-4 17th hole, Matthews needed eagle to advance to the weekend. The hole measured 368 yards on a direct line, with a carry of “somewhere around 330 to 340” yards over the water.
Matthews took the line and executed the shot. The ball landed on the front of the green and released to 15 feet.
Had he attempted such a shot in a practice round?
“Not directly at it … that’s a little crazy,” remarked Matthews. “Our line was … there are some red umbrellas on the clubhouse that we saw. That was kind of our line, if we had any bit of help at all.
“If I wasn’t in that position, I wouldn’t be hitting driver at the green … I love doing stuff like that. It’s fun.”
Matthews couldn’t convert the eagle; the ball slid just right of the hole. He made birdie to miss the cut by a shot, but he departs the 2022 Korn Ferry Tour with the ultimate prize: a PGA TOUR card for next season. The Temple alum won the Astara Golf Championship presented by Mastercard in Bogota in February en route to a spot in the top 25 on the Korn Ferry Tour Regular Season Eligibility Points List and his first TOUR card. He’ll debut on TOUR as a member at the Fortinet Championship later this month.
After Matthews’ playing partner Thomas Detry took an aggressive line off No. 18 tee, a patron remarked as such.
Matthews then turned around and upped the ante.
“Thomas Detry takes an aggressive line off 18 tee, and the guy behind us says, ‘That’s an aggressive line,’ and then Brandon turns to the guy and says, ‘You want to see an aggressive line? Watch this,’” remarked the group’s third member, Ben Martin, who matched a course-record 62 on Friday.
“We thought it might go in, when it was in the air, and then walking off the tee, he said he needed to make eagle to make the cut. We were all pulling for him; that was pretty cool. I said, ‘I don’t think Fazio had this in mind when he designed the 18th hole.’”
“The guy might’ve had a couple cocktails,” laughed Matthews. “He’s like, ‘Well that’s an aggressive line.’ I’m like, ‘You want to see an aggressive line, buddy? I’ll show you an aggressive line.’ So that was kind of fun.”
Despite falling one shot shy of the cut line, Matthews found a silver lining in the situation. He’ll enjoy a couple extra days at home with his fiancée Danielle and their dog, in advance of the TOUR season.
And he provided a parting message of gratitude for the Korn Ferry Tour.
“I’m beyond grateful for everybody that I’ve met,” Matthews said. “The effort put in is beyond belief. I’m looking forward to representing (the Korn Ferry Tour) well.”
Just as he did on his final hole as a Korn Ferry Tour pro.