ROCKWALL, TX (August 26, 2014) Rockwall native Matthew Watkins, 12, couldn’t have given a more confident (and perhaps, a little teasing) response when asked about his recent top 10 finish at the U.S. Kids Golf World Championship in Pinehurst, North Carolina.
“It was easy,” he said with a shrug and a smile.
Matthew came in 10th place among 157 of the top 12-year-old golfers around the world. He was 6th among Americans and 2nd among Texans, behind fellow golfer and Dallas native Scott Roden, who placed 2nd in the tournament.
Matthew, who has been playing golf ever since he first learned to swing a club around 3 years of age, has qualified six times for the World Championship event, held on the last weekend in July every year at the prestigious Pinehurst Resort.
The tournament is sponsored by Atlanta-based U.S. Kids Golf, a worldwide 501 (c) 3 nonprofit organization which conducts tours involving over 800 local, regional, national and international tournaments for 13 different age divisions.
As if going up against the top 12-year-olds from around the world wasn’t intimidating enough, rainy conditions added even more of a challenge for Matthew, who said it was like chipping through mud and putting on greens as hard as concrete.
Despite the weather, Matthew pulled through the final round of the three-day tournament with four birdies and three bogeys to finish with a one-under 71 and his first-ever top 10 finish at the World Championship event.
“My caddy said that if I shot even par then I would come in the top 10, and he was right,” Matthew said.
His success on the course didn’t stop there; Matthew went on to shoot 7-under in the World Cup the very next day to help Team USA claim top honors for the ninth consecutive year.
The World Cup, a special tournament for 12-year-old players only, pits the top 10 boys and top six girls from the United States against their international counterparts in a one-round, one-day tournament. Playing alongside his Florida-native teammate, Joseph Pagdin, the pairing needed only 63 strokes to get through Pinehurst No. 4, carding 10 birdies to earn the Garth and Gill Morrison Medal. The low-round award pays tribute to the late Sir Garth Morrison, Lord Lieutenant for East Lothian, United Kingdom from 2001 until his death in 2013.
One could say that golf runs in the Watkins family. Matthew’s parents, Wesley and Lindsey Watkins, both played on the Rockwall High school golf teams. Matthew’s grandfather, Bill Godfrey, got Matthew started on the course and has acted as his caddy for 95 percent of his tournaments, according to Matthew’s grandmother, Jamie Godfrey. In fact, Matthew holds his frequent practices with Bill at the Buffalo Creek Golf Club.
Matthew also receives training from local golf expert Rob Sanders of the Shores Country Club, and his other grandparents, Bill and Beth Watkins, also play a huge role in supporting and training him. He enjoys playing other collegiate sports such as football, basketball and baseball.
Matthew is attending Cain Middle School for the first time this year, and looks forward to playing on the golf team at Rockwall High School, just as his parents once did.
Established in 2001, the U.S. Kids Golf Foundation is a 501 (c) 3 nonprofit organization aiming to provide kids and their families the opportunity to participate in the game of golf through instruction and competition. For more information regarding U.S. Kids Golf, visit its website at uskidsgolf.com.
By Blue Ribbon News staff writer and reporter, Austin Wells. To share your good news and events, email editor@BlueRibbonNews.com.
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