Someday, a group of savvy television executives — or perhaps the good folks at the Hallmark Channel — will summon the wherewithal to draft a script for The Many Lives of Matthew Wolff. The 22-year-old has barely entered the first act of his professional career, and yet he’s already among golf’s most fascinating players.
His swing is a source of limitless intrigue. A wonky and swooping tornado of motion, it serves as the perfect metaphor for his early career: capable of both dramatic success and head-scratching oddities.
First there was the 2019 win at the 3M Open that made Wolff the first winner of his rookie class, outracing both Collin Morikawa and Viktor Hovland to the achievement. Then there was the dazzling success that followed, punctuated by a Sunday duel with Bryson DeChambeau at the U.S. Open that resulted in a runner-up finish.
Then came unexpected struggles — a series of missed cuts followed by a several-month hiatus from competitive golf. And then shock, when he admitted a large reason behind his sabbatical was because the grind of the pro game had robbed him of his joy for the sport.
These narratives would be suitable for the arc of an eventful professional career. For Matt Wolff, they’ve all occurred in the last 18 months.
Of course, no script would be complete without a redemption story — the portion of Wolff’s story it appears he might now be entering.
The young gun is once again finding his confidence on the course, and through three rounds at the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open, is firmly in contention to grab the second win of his pro career.
There’s a lot that’s changed since Wolff’s break earlier this year — much of it mindset-driven. But as far as swing changes are concerned, he’s found recent success by simplifying his approach.
“I’ve been working on the same thing with my coach [George Gankas] for a little bit now and it’s the first time we kind of stuck to one thing, because last year was kind of a struggle,” Wolff said after his third consecutive round in the 60s at the Shriners on Saturday.
In a swing as complex and unique as Wolff’s, how does he find a single tweak worth focusing on? The answer, as it turns out, isn’t to focus upon the swing at all.
“I was trying to find a bunch of different stuff in my swing and we came to the kind of the realization that we don’t need to be changing too much, just one small thing,” Wolff said. “For me, it’s just set up.”
For Wolff, finding an athletic posture is a strong indicator for athleticism throughout the rest of the swing. For those who’ve seen him swing, it should come as no surprise that athleticism plays a significant role in his success.
“It’s when I feel comfortable other the ball and feel like I’m athletic I feel like I really hit the ball well,” he said. “Sometimes I get a little straight-legged and bent over a little bit.”
On Sunday, Wolff is in the hunt for his first win since his roller-coaster ride began last June. A victory would be a fitting conclusion to act one for one of golf’s most interesting players. Or, as some might call it, a Hollywood ending.
“I feel like really confident with where I’m at in my game,” Wolff said. “My putting, my chipping, every part of my game feels really solid so I’m excited for tomorrow.”