With rounds of 79 and 81, Andy Matthews won’t win the U.S. Open this year, but he has definitely won over young Cooper Schechterle.
Schechterle, a 3-year-old born 27 weeks premature, met the Canadian Tour pro in Oakmont’s clubhouse during Wednesday’s thunderstorm. Matthews entertained the awestruck boy during the delay as the entire Schechterle family smiled.
Despite the rigors of Matthews’ first U.S. Open week, he was extremely generous with his time. “We were even e-mailing [Wednesday] night,” said Cooper's mother, Melissa, whose son is Massachusetts’ ambassador baby for the March of Dimes. “I was like, ‘You need to be preparing for the U.S. Open tomorrow.’ ”
At night, back in the hotel, all Cooper could do was think about Andy. “He kept saying, ‘Andy golf, Andy golf,’ ” said Melissa.
On Thursday, Cooper watched Matthews’ first round from a stroller. When the family arrived at the 11th hole, Cooper ran under the ropes — he did not need to duck — toward his new friend. “He saw the blue shirt [Andy was wearing], and he just ran right toward him,” said Melissa.
Cooper made it about halfway to Matthews before being called back by his parents. If his mother had not told him, “You'll see him later," he probably would have kept going.
Cooper and his parents came to the Open this week to get signatures from professionals on Oakmont flags. One flag was going to be auctioned for the March of Dimes, and the other would be for Cooper to keep. But after obtaining more than 35 signatures from the likes of Ernie Els, Chris DiMarco and Todd Hamilton, the flags were stolen.
When Todd Hamilton heard about the family's misfortune, he promised that he would get a golf bag signed for Cooper. Matthews offered to get two other flags signed.
“There are so many nice people on the PGA Tour,” said Melissa.
— Jeff Patterson