Matthew Wolff is on the verge of making history at the U.S. Open on Sunday as one of the youngest golfers ever to win one of golf’s four majors.
The second-year pro with an unorthodox swing surged to the top of the leaderboard on Saturday after beginning the round four strokes off the lead. By the end of the day, he was in sole possession of first place, going 5-under for the day after carding a 5-under 65 with six birdies (including five in the front nine).
Wolff will attempt to hold off several golfers as they vie for his lead; chief among them is Bryson DeChambeau and Louis Oosthuizen, the only two golfers with an under-par score at the start of Sunday’s competiton.
But who exactly is Wolff? Sporting News breaks down one of the game’s bright young stars:
Who is Matthew Wolff?
Wolff is in his second year as a professional golfer after making his professional debut at the 2019 Travelers Championship on June 20, 2019.
It didn’t take long for Wolff to earn his first professional win: Less than a month after his debut on the PGA Tour, he won the 3M Open, earning his first professional win at 20 years old and becoming the second-youngest winner in PGA Tour history. He carded a 6-under 65 in the final round — including an eagle on the final hole of the tournament — to earn a one-stroke winner over runners-up Collin Morikawa and Bryson DeChambeau.
Wolff competed in seven other PGA Tour events in 2019, never finishing better than tied-for-19th. He experienced more success in the 2020 PGA Tour prior to the U.S. Open, earning top-10 finishes in the Rocket Mortgage Classic (second) and PGA Championship (tied for fourth). He also earned top-10 wins in unofficial PGA Tour events in the QBE Shootout and TaylorMade Driving Relief.
Matthew Wolff’s age: How old is the 2020 U.S. Open winner?
Wolff turned 21 years old on April 14; should he win the U.S. Open, he will be 21 years, five months and six days old.
While winning one of golf’s four majors at such a young age would undoubtedly impressive, Wolff wouldn’t be the youngest to have achieved the feat. He’d be the fourth-youngest golfer to win the U.S. Open after John J. McDermott, Francis Ouimet and Bobby Jones — who won the event in 1911, 1913 and 1923, respectively — and the 10th-youngest golfer to win a golf major:
Golfers listed youngest to oldest
Matthew Wolff could be the first golfer to win U.S. Open debut in 107 years
Should Wolff win on Sunday, he would be the first golfer to win their U.S. Open debut in 107 years; the last person to match that feat was Ouimet, who won the event as an amateur at The Country Club in Brookline, Mass.
Matthew Wolff is the reigning NCAA champion
If Wolff wins on Sunday, it wouldn’t be his first championship experience on the golf course.
In 2018, Wolff, a freshman at Oklahoma State, helped the Cowboys earn the 2018 NCAA match play championship, giving the team its 11th in school history. (He of course made the championship-clinching putt). That capped a season in which Wolff earned four runners-up, first-team All-American honors and the Phil Mickelson Award as the nation’s top freshman.
Wolff’s sophomore campaign included such honors as winning the Carmel Cup and the OFCC Fighting Illini Invitational, as well as sharing medalist honors at the Royal Oaks Intercollegiate. While Oklahoma State failed to defend its title, Wolff earned the NCAA’s top individual honor by becoming the 2019 NCAA men’s individual champion; he won by five strokes and finished the tournament at 10 under. Two months later, Wolff made his professional debut.
Because the COVID-19 pandemic forced the cancellation of the NCAA’s 2020 spring and summer sports, Wolff remains the reigning NCAA champion.
Matthew Wolff can nearly double his career earnings
According to CBS Sports, Wolff had made $3.61 million on the PGA Tour prior to the 2020 U.S. Open. By winning the tournament on Sunday (and its $2.25 million winner’s share), he can nearly double his career earnings, bringing his total to $5.86 million.
Matthew Wolff has an unorthodox golf swing
Those who have watched Wolff at the U.S. Open may have noticed his unorthodox golf swing. It’s one that began when he was a child after, he broke his collarbone in a game of touch football; he began perfecting it at age 14 with swing coach George Gankas. It’s difficult to explain the mechanics to a non-expert, but Golf Digest provides an in-depth breakdown.
And here’s a slow-motion breakdown as well:
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