Brock Matava had to ask for three days off from his job as a performance analyst in Indiana later this week.
The United High School graduate truly didn’t expect to be away from his desk and playing on the par-70 Sunnehanna Country Club from Wednesday through Saturday.
But Matava was among four players to advance in a qualifying round for the 68th Sunnehanna Amateur Tournament for Champions. The 27-year-old from Homer City emerged from a group of five golfers tied for second at 1-under 69 after a playoff on Monday and will be among a field of 101 competitors in the Amateur this week.
University of Dayton golfer Ethan Snyder of Dublin, Ohio, won the qualifier’s top spot with an 8-under 62.
“I always went up to watch the Amateur as a kid,” said Matava, who graduated from Coastal Carolina University in 2016.
“I’ve probably been up there to watch it five or six years. It’s pretty cool to be inside the ropes. It’s like house money to me to be playing with all the college kids at 27 years old. It’s an interesting position for me. It’s awesome to play in it.
“Compared to the rest of the field, I’m old, even though 27 still is young. I’m just going to go out there and do the best I can,” said Matava, who is the son of Flood City Thunder semiprofessional football team owner Georgianne Matava and longtime area high school football, track and golf coach Chris Matava.
Matava was part of two Heritage Conference championship teams and he won conference individual medalist honors twice on the United High golf team. The Lions also won the Inter-County Conference. Matava also is a two-time club champion at Chestnut Ridge Golf Resort.
He finished his qualifying round on Sunday, as scheduled. But not all of the field was as fortunate, and Sunnehanna had to have players back on Monday to wrap up the round.
“I finished my entire round Sunday because I was one of the first groups off,” Matava said.
“Some of the later groups got caught out in the weather.
“There was lightning close by and they blew the horn.”
Matava made birdie putts on 3, 7 and 13. He had a double bogey on 12.
“I played really well on Sunday and thought 69 was going to be close. I expected to have a playoff, but I didn’t know it was going to be (Monday),” Matava said.
“I thought it was going to be (Sunday). I came home to relax a little bit (on Sunday) and if I was needed I was going to go back up. When I got back up there (Monday) morning, I was told it was a 5-for-3 spots playoff. It was a lot of driving back and forth between Homer City and Westmont. It’s all worth it now.”
Snyder had eight birdies (4, 10, 12, 13, 15, 16, 17, 18) to pull away from the qualifying field.
He birdied the final four holes and seven of the nine holes on the back.
“62 is incredible,” Matava said. “That’s a crazy score.”
Matava and Jackson Palmer, an Ohio State University golfer from Dublin, Ohio, each made par on No. 16 and advanced after the first playoff hole.
Duke University golfer Quinn Riley of Raleigh, North Carolina, emerged as the final qualifier, outlasting Jimmy Myers and Benjamin Smith, who also were in the group of five players who shot a 69.
“It was a little more effort than we expected with the two-day process,” Matava said.
The work – and time away from his “real” job – has just begun.
“I had to ask for days off from work,” said Matava, who is employed by S&T Bank in Indiana. “Luckily, my boss was a college golfer, and he was pretty understanding.”
Mike Mastovich is a sports reporter and columnist for The Tribune-Democrat. Follow him on Twitter @Masty81.