MARION — Matthew Walker came one shot away from capturing his second consecutive Class 4A golf state championship Saturday afternoon, losing a playoff to Ankeny Centennial's Griffen Matthias by one stroke at Hunter Ridge's Golf Course.
To force a playoff, Walker birdied hole 17 by sinking a nine-foot putt. Ottumwa's standout golfer carded a 72-even par and finished with a three-over par score of 147 at the two-day state tournament.
"He made a few bogies, he even had a double bogie," Ottumwa golf coach Scott Maas said, " [but] he kept bouncing back and finding a way to make a birdie. No doubt a big part of golf is not letting bad things get to you, bring you down. Matthew is obviously very good at that. He's very level headed."
Although he couldn't quite pull out the come-from-behind victory Saturday after going into the round four strokes behind then-leader Aaron Wirt of Des Moines Roosevelt, Walker turned in a gutsy performance defined by tremendous resiliency and aplomb.
"I just told him the same thing his dad just told him," Maas said, "We're proud of him. He played good, he battled all day long. "
Walker's teammates' Hoyt Grooms and Dillon Patritto even made the trek from Ottumwa to support their teammate.
"He's our good friend and teammate," Grooms said when asked why he and Patritto had made the trip to see Walker.
For their star teammate, Saturday's round was brimming with both trials and tribulations. Every time Walker was faced with adversity, he would respond with a big putt or a brilliant approach shot that landed just a few feet from the pin.
"You have to let it go," Walker said about the agonizing parts of his round. "I've learned over my years that you can't let it bother you and you just have to play the next shot to the best of your capability."