KOHLER, Wisc. -- This has been a summer of surprises at the major golf championships. Three months ago Graeme McDowell was just another good young player; today he's the U.S. Open champion. Louis Oosthuizen wasn't mentioned as the next great hope for South African golf; today observers marvel about the beauty of his swing after he ran away with the British Open.
Troy Matteson would like to see that trend of emerging champions continue. The former Georgia Tech All-American would like to add his name to the list of young players who have sprung from the pack. The Buford resident is playing this week in the 92nd PGA Championship at Whistling Straits, the final major of the season. So, why not start this week?
"I'm starting to play good at the right time," Matteson said. "It's a good chance to do something."
Matteson had a respectable showing last week at the WGC Bridgestone Invitational, where he tied for 44th at 2-over 282. But his two previous events netted Mattteson his first two top-10s of the season and fueled his hopes for a big finish to the season.
"My iron play has been very solid. It's been good all year," Matteson said. "I'm driving it well. It's just a matter of getting some putts to fall."
When Matteson is putting well, he's shown the ability to run off birdies. He did it last year winning the Frys.Com Open with back-to-back 61s. He was 14 under last month at the John Deere Classic and again at The Greenbrier Classic. He finished both in the top 10. Those showings have helped him forget a stretch this season where he twice missed four consecutive cuts. Now his game is rounding into shape at the right time.
"I'd really like to do well at the PGA," Matteson said. "Like I said, I've been hitting my irons really well and that's going to be important at the PGA. You start missing greens there and it's tough to get it up and down."
But Matteson has been getting up-and-down recently when he's missed a green. The ability to do so can help keep the momentum going and keep the competitive hopes alive. It happened at The Greenbrier, where Matteson holed out a bunker shot from an almost untenable position; he was hoping to salvage a bogey, but wound up saving his round.
"Sometimes your whole day hinges on how those things turn out," he said.
He'll have plenty of opportunities this week at Whistling Straits. The course is described as an American-style links course on the shores of Lake Michigan. There are more than 1,000 sand traps, as well deep pot bunkers and grassy dunes. Missing a green here can have dire consequences for those unable to get up-and-down.
This will be Matteson's second appearance at the PGA Championship. He tied for 66th at Southern Hills in 2007, although he was in the mix until shooting 80 in the final round.