Pro golfer Brandon Matthews was in a sudden-death playoff match in Argentina on the PGA Tour last month, preparing to make an 8-foot putt. If successful, he would be guaranteed a slot in the Open Tournament.
Suddenly, just as the 25-year-old golfer was about to make the shot, an onlooker shouted from the gallery, breaking his concentration so that he flinched and missed the putt, not only losing the match but also his spot in The Open.
Needless to say, Matthews was not happy. He thought that someone had distracted him on purpose. Later in the locker room, a tournament administrator approached him and revealed who had screamed.
A middle-aged man with Down syndrome had gotten so excited over the match, he had not been able to contain his excitement and let out a scream during Matthews’s shot.
Matthews immediately asked to meet the fan.
“I was around mental disability growing up, and I have a soft spot in my heart for it. Those are really special people,” Matthews told The Golf Channel. “I felt so terrible that I was even upset. I just wanted to make sure that he didn’t feel bad.”
After being introduced, Matthews made sure the man was having a good time, then offered him a signed glove and gave him a hug.
“I just wanted to make sure he was enjoying himself, that he had no hard feelings, that he didn’t feel bad about what happened,” Matthews said. “I didn’t want to anyone to be mad at him. I didn’t want him to be mad at himself. I wanted to make sure he knew that I wasn’t mad. That’s all I wanted to do.”
In the end, the fan was very happy over the exchange, and Matthews added that he was glad to turn his disappointment into acceptance and compassion.
“Some things are bigger than golf,” he told reporters, “and this was one of them.”