Matt Green is best known for his powerful, sweeping draw, but the Kansas State golfer is starting to appreciate the value of a fade.
Since tweaking his swing at the advice of K-State golf coach Grant Robbins last year, Green won his first college tournament and earned an invitation to his first NCAA regional, which will be held Thursday at The Farms Golf Club in Santa Fe, Calif.
“When I first saw him last summer, I thought his golf swing needed a little bit of work,” Robbins said. “He hit too big of a curving, right-to-left shot, and we worked on being a little more consistent with his ball-striking and being able to hit a left-to-right shot. He is such a good athlete that he took to it very, very quickly.”
Green, a Lenexa native and Olathe Northwest grad, says he still hits a 30-yard draw on occasion, but that is now the extreme instead of the norm. He is hitting the ball straighter, and that improvement has led to lower scores.
As a redshirt sophomore, he dropped his stroke average to a team-best 73.18 and recorded 11 rounds of par or lower. He also won the Jack Nicklaus Invitational in September and finished in the top 10 four times.
Best of all, Green said, his worst round of the season was a 78.
“And there was about 6 inches of rain on the ground that day,” Green added. “It was up in Oregon, maybe 45 degrees, just horrible weather.”
In good conditions, he has shot as low as 67.
“He has always been able to shoot low numbers,” Robbins said, “but he also had high scores. He has eliminated the big misses and the high scores with his swing. That is the biggest difference. He is more consistent.”
That stability led to good, and unexpected, news last week when the NCAA invited Green to the regional as an individual. Green was asleep at the time of the announcement, assuming his season was over coming off a mediocre showing at the Big 12 Tournament.
But his mother and Robbins were watching just in case. They called Green immediately.
“I was very surprised and excited,” Green said. “I have never made it to the postseason besides the Big 12 Tournament. It is a little surreal, because I was not expecting it. When I got the call, I was about as happy as can be.”
He follows in the footsteps of former K-State golfer Daniel Wood, who also made it to a regional last year.
Green will need to be at his best to advance to the national championship at the end of the month in Florida. In order to move on, he must beat everyone outside the five advancing teams. Robbins thinks it will take a top-five finish, which Green has proved he can achieve.
If he continues curving the ball both ways, Green will take his chances.
“My biggest goal is to just have fun,” Green said. “Go have a good time and not really worry about results. If I play well, I play well. If I don’t play well, it’s a good experience and I will learn from it and move on.”