In just its second tournament of the year, the Eat/West Match Challenge, Oregon found itself matched up against Ohio State in the first round of match play. Coming down the stretch, freshman Amy Matsuoka and her opponent were locked in a tightly contested match, which would inevitably lead to a playoff hole.
With the team match all square at 2-2-1, it all came down to Matsuoka. For most freshman, going to a sudden death hole would be a nervous affair, but not for Matsuoka.
She stayed calm, played her game and won the sudden-death hole, sending Oregon to the championship match of the East/West match challenge. She said nerve’s never got to her.
“I just played my own game, stuck to my routine and did the best I could,” Matsuoka said.
Oregon has two top-three finishes in their first two tournaments of the season and Matsuoka has played a critical role in both. In Oregon’s first tournament this season — and Matsuoka’s first taste of collegiate golf —the Red Raider Invitational, she shot a 6-over 222 and tied for 10th overall. In her second, the East/West tournament, she not only helped lead her team to the championship but led the Ducks in stroke play, finishing tied for eighth with a 2-over 146.
She is currently tied with sophomore Petra Salko for first on the team in stroke average at an even 74.
“She’s great, she’s a really consistent player,” Oregon senior Cathleen Santoso said. “She’s just very calm, cool and collected and I’m just excited to have her as a freshman. She’s a great influence for all of us and I can see great things coming with her.”
Matsuoka hails from Newport Beach, California, where she became the first player from her high school, Corona del Mar, to win a Pacific Coast League individual title. Her list of accomplishments is longer than she can hit a golf ball and include a third place finish at the Callaway Junior World Championships and an honorable mention to the Rolex Junior All-American Team.
So far, she has been as good as advertised.
Yet for all her golf prowess, Matsuoka is a quiet player. She only stands at 5-foot-1 and can come off as shy at times. According to her teammates and coaches, she is a very independent player and person who hardly asks questions during practice or tournaments.
“She’s been very independent,” Oregon head coach Ria Scott said. “She’s the most independent freshman that [assistant coach] Laura [Cilek] and I have ever had. We were joking that she hasn’t asked us a single question. Like where to get her dorm keys or where to get a parking permit or what time practice is, because she’s figuring it out on her own.”
But that’s fine with Scott.
“It’s amazing,” Scott said. “And just because we’re playing in a team setting, I hope it doesn’t make her more dependent. I hope that we can be there for her when she needs it but I hope she never loses that independence.”
Scott explained that many times, golfers will overthink aspects of their games and that’s where mistakes begin to occur and compound. But Matsuoka doesn’t have that problem
“Amy is already there,” Scott said. “So I stay out of her way and let her play golf.”
All this from a freshman.
With Matsuoka off to a phenomenal start and Oregon’s sophomores, Petra Salko and Kathleen Scavo, performing well, Oregon future seems very bright.
Follow Gus Morris on Twitter @JustGusMorris