Wolff: ‘Maybe I need to impress the old greats’
Wows Singh at Rocket Mortgage Classic like he did Lehman a year ago
July 03, 2020
By Cameron Morfit, PGATOUR.COM
Matthew Wolff's accurate tee shot leads to birdie at Rocket Mortgage
DETROIT – There’s nothing like playing in front of a legend.
That was the half-serious explanation from Matthew Wolff, 21, after his six straight birdies and second-round 64 put him at 11 under and in a tie for the early second-round lead at the Rocket Mortgage Classic. He figured he was just showing off for playing partner Vijay Singh, the 57-year-old World Golf Hall of Famer.
“Maybe I shouldn’t have said this,” Wolff said, “but on number six, after I birdied, I said, ‘Gosh, maybe I just have a thing of playing with older guys and playing really well,’ because at 3M last year I shot 62 playing with Tom Lehman. Maybe it’s something about the old greats, me feeling like I need to impress them or something like that.”
Wolff won the 2019 NCAA individual title, turned pro, and broke through with his first PGA TOUR win at the 3M Open almost exactly a year ago. But his rocket-like trajectory stalled with no top-10 finishes since then, and he now says it was because he tried to be too perfect. By pressing and grinding, he said, he actually went backward.
“I would say just maturity, just mentally,” he said of the big difference this week.
It’s funny to hear the M word – maturity – from a guy who just turned 21. Wolff was born on April 14, 1999. By that time Singh had won his first major, the 1998 PGA Championship, on the way to three overall and 34 PGA TOUR wins in total. When Wolff was 5, Singh reached world No. 1; when Wolff was 9, Singh won the FedExCup.
The two are separated by 36 years, but by only seven strokes over the first 36 holes at Detroit Golf Club. While Wolff was climbing the leaderboard, Singh, who sports a white goatee these days, was carding his second straight 2-under 70. At 4 under total, he looked unlikely to make the cut.
“I haven't really heard much about him before,” Wolff said. “I never met him before this and this, the last two days were a lot of fun. He was talking to me the whole time. We talked about anything from, you know, golf to what he does just randomly and where he likes to go and travel. It was a really cool experience.”
“… It was cool to see how he approaches it and how he goes about his game,” he added. “I definitely learned a lot from him the last two days. I think he's going to make the cut, so I'm not going to let up and let him catch me.”