Matteson barely avoids disaster on the island

May 11, 2007

PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla., May 10 — Troy Matteson came out of the scoring area shaking his head after the first round of the Players Thursday afternoon. “There’s no big red easy button out there,” he said, laughing.

A firm-and-fast golf course, combined with gusty winds from hovering tropical storm Andrea, made for a nasty day, and the island-green 17th hole earned frequent disaster points. In Matteson’s group, Davis Love had the honors and dunked his shot in the lake. Matteson hit his shot right of the green and then watched as the wind blew the ball back over the bunker onto the right edge of the putting surface, where it got a wind-aided kick left and rolled down the slope to two-and-a-half feet.

“I’m the new guy here,” said Matteson, a Nationwide Tour star who played college golf at Georgia Tech. “You want to see somebody hit that 17th green before you get up there. The wind was blowing right to left and I tend to play a draw, anyway. It was going out toward the bunker and I thought, ‘Just be dry, just be dry.’ So it wasn’t one of those shots that was right at it the whole way. It required a lot of luck. You couldn’t ask for anything better.”

Justin Leonard, the third member of the group, hit his tee shot into the water, too. Then Love’s shot from the drop zone, which Matteson said Love hit “pretty well,” found the lake. Love made 7, Leonard made 6. Matteson 2.

Matteson, who also birdied the 16th hole, shot 75.