SILVIS, ILL. – A walk up a fairway at TPC Deere Run is something Morningside College head coach Todd Sapp and senior Corey Matthey (Sergeant Bluff, Iowa) won’t soon forget.
With the Mustangs’ standout topping the leaderboard after three-plus days of battling rain, wind, and more on one of the Midwest region’s most demanding courses, a tricky shot awaited him to close out the run of a lifetime at the 2021 National Association of Intercollegiate Athletic Championships Friday, May 21.
“The job of the coach is keeping your athletes focused and calm,” Sapp, who recently announced he would be retiring at the end of the 2020-21 season as Morningside’s head coach, reflected. “It was a special moment to walk with Corey and just experience the moment he was going through.”
“That’s the memory I’ll take away probably more than most,” Matthey said. “To able to talk and walk with Coach Sapp on my final collegiate hole, which was his last one as coach of the men’s program, was so special.”
As Sapp gently stood by, Matthey hit one of the most significant approaches of his playing career to date and set himself up for a finish that saw him enter the clubhouse with a two-shot lead over William Woods University’s Logan Smith. The senior wasn’t ready to breath easy in the least, though, as Smith had served as a formidable opponent leading after round one and deep into the last 18.
“You’re never quite sure until all of the scores come in,” he said. “However, when I found out he double-bogeyed No. 16, I felt pretty good about everything.
It was a big help having played this course at a tournament earlier in the spring,” he added. “I think my driving game allowed me to settle in. Once I knew I could find the fairway like I was doing, I could be aggressive when I wanted to be and be conservative when it called for.”
Just the second All-American in program history and the Great Plains Athletic Conference’s first-ever individual national champion, Matthey hopes his 72-hole 280 leads to bigger things in his future.
“In just about two months, I go to Scottsdale, Ariz., and being playing some mini-tours to try and qualify for the Korn Ferry Tour and then possibly one day play on the PGA Tour,” he said. “I want to be in those big spots, competing with the best, so these last four days have been good for me. It taught me how to handle a pressure situation on the course with a lot on the line.”
Matthey’s title highlighted what was otherwise a rough saga for Morningside as a team. The inclement weather caused many problems for several of Sapp’s squad, which wound up missing the cut with a 24th-place finish.
“Despite the disappointment, we’re all feeling to some degree, it is very much overshadowed by what Corey did,” Sapp noted. “We had high expectations coming in, but the weather got to some of them.
I reminded the team about what we were able to accomplish this year,” he added. “It was special to win the conference title and get to nationals. We had to show depth at times and did just that.”