Pro golfer Brandon Matthews may not have won the VISA Open de Argentina on Sunday, but he did win over a new set of supporters thanks to the kindness he exhibited toward a fan with Down syndrome.
Matthews, 25, was on the third playoff hole in Buenos Aires about to take a make-or-break putt that — if he sunk it — would have extended the playoff against Ricardo Celia.
“I got over the putt, took the putter back and heard kind of a yelp or a scream,” he recounted to The Golf Channel. “I kind of flinched on the putt and immediately knew I missed it.”
At first, the athlete was irked, thinking that perhaps a spectator had sabotaged him purposely.
“I thought someone had done it intentionally. I was frustrated,” he told the outletl. “Really, I was in shock that that just happened.”
But he soon learned what had actually occurred from PGA Tour Latinoamérica’s tournament administration manager Claudio Rivas, who found him in the locker room, apologized and explained that a fan with Down syndrome had made the noise after getting excited.
The information immediately changed Matthews’ outlook on the situation, and he told Rivas he wanted to meet the fan.
With Rivas acting as translator, he did, and even offered the man a hug as well as a signed glove and ball.
“There’s nothing you can do about that. I mean, the guy was out there, he was enjoying it,” Matthews said in a PGA Instagram video. “I feel for the guy, ‘cause I’m sure he felt terrible. That’s why I went and gave him a glove and a ball afterwards and gave him a hug. It’s just one of those things that happens.”
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Matthews explained to the Golf Channel that he has a “soft spot” in his heart for people with disabilities, as his mother managed group homes and his best friend’s sister has Down syndrome.
“Those are really special people. I felt so terrible that I was even upset,” he said. “I just wanted to make sure that he didn’t feel bad.”
Later, the golfer shared an Instagram saying he was “blown away” but the support he’d received from fans impressed by his good deed.
“I can honestly say that I never expected any public attention from what happened and am completely humbled by it,” he wrote. “The most important thing that I have learned in these crazy last few days, is how such a small act of kindness can go so far and touch so many people. I can only hope that in any similar situation, anyone would do the same.”
His post was flooded with comments praising his character, with many calling Matthews a “class act.”
“You made a fan today. … This is one of the greatest moments in golf. I’ll never forget this,” one wrote.
Added another, “Thank you for the act of kindness that you showed. I have a baby girl with down syndrome and I hope that more people in the world will treat her the way that you treated this man. You are awesome!”