Photo: Sam Greenwood/Getty Images
Vital victory: Northampton’s Matthew Vital wins DCP title
It’s not everyday GAP Junior golfers get the opportunity to compete on Augusta’s magical turf or to share a moment with the legendary Tiger Woods. But when contending for, and winning, a national championship trophy, you sure do.
Enter Northampton Country Club’s Matthew Vital, winner of the Boys 12-13 age group in the Drive, Chip & Putt Championship April 7 at Augusta National Golf Club. Vital finished first in the division’s chipping competition, and third place honors in both the driving and putting challenges en route to 26 points and the overall honor.
The eighth grader at Lehigh Valley Academy generated a few top moments during his championship run. A 30-footer on Augusta’s 18th green helped him secure the title, as did a clinching chip-in that quickly began circulating on social media platforms. Time with the pros was pretty cool, too.
“That putt and the chip were amazing. I also got to spend some time with Tiger on the 14th hole – he was three feet next to me – which was very cool,” said Vital, who qualified locally at Moselem Springs Golf Club before advancing through subregionals at The ACE Club, and eventually, regionals at Congressional Country Club. “When I was outside the ropes [Monday], hanging out on No. 18, Justin Thomas came over, shook my hand and congratulated me.”
On-premise support was especially strong, thanks to the attendance of Vital’s father Gus, mother Arlene, twin brother Michael and sister Maia. Cheers from Northampton friends started to flow in almost immediately.
“I’ve been getting a bunch of congratulations from everyone, either back home [at Northampton] or here [at Augusta],” said Vital, 13, of Bethlehem, Pa. “It means a lot.”
Vital himself is no stranger to top competition. He became the youngest player (11) to qualify for the Lehigh Valley Amateur Championship at Green Pond Country Club in 2017. He then carded a career-low 68 last season in a Lehigh Valley Junior Golf Tour event at Iron Lakes Country Club.
“I’ve been playing golf since I was 2 years old. It’s my favorite sport now,” said the 3.5 handicapper. “My family joined Northampton last April. I spend a lot of time both practicing and playing there.”
If it wasn’t the case before, it sure is now. Drives, chips and putts are extremely Vital.