Matthew Ruzomberka brings British flavor to Hampton golf team
Thursday, October 10, 2019 | 4:20 PM
Next year, perhaps Matthew Ruzomberka will get lucky with windy and rainy weather at the WPIAL championships.
After spending much of his youth playing in the blustery conditions his home country of England has to offer, the junior is used to a little adversity from Mother Nature on the golf course.
After missing the WPIAL championships by one stroke last year, he qualified this year — only to miss the cut for Western Regionals in a playoff. But Ruzomberka didn’t seem too flustered by the situation. The junior has one more year to take that step.
“I had a really good time,” Ruzomberka said of his championship round at Fox Chapel Golf Club. “I felt I could have done a little better. I made a couple small mistakes here and there that cost me states. It was a valuable lesson. I’m going to go into next year trying to better myself.”
Just like last year, when Ruzomberka finished as an alternate at the sectional tournament, coach Bruce Steckel lamented him being so close.
“I thought Matthew played well,” he said. “He just tied for that last spot. Five-man playoff, made it through two holes and down to three guys, put one in a hazard, and that cost him.”
The junior has established himself as the No. 1 player on a Hampton golf team that made playoffs for the seventh year in a row, only losing two section matches all year, both to perennial powerhouse Shady Side Academy.
“We started off great,” he said. “So we have been continuing that winning stretch. Shady Side has been good since my freshman year. Other than that, we’ve been undefeated in section, which is quite good.”
It might not have been as good had Ruzomberka and Steckel not spotted a mechanical flaw while producing a recruiting video.
“We were struggling making this video and I wasn’t hitting the ball well at all,” he said. “When we played it back, we saw what I was doing. Kind of changed my swing around a little bit. It’s given me confidence and the scores have come down ever since.”
Overcoming difficulty in golf is something Ruzomberka learned well growing up in Burnley, a town outside of Manchester.
“It was quite hilly and windy and had a lot of tall grass,” he said. “Lots of rain, too. I learned how to play in some pretty bad conditions. I think that’s what I’m most proud of. I don’t care what the conditions are like. It always taught me to tough it out and not blame it on the rain or anything.”
His father, Matthew Sr., who works in the tech field and moved to Pittsburgh when Ruzomberka was 10, got him started at a young age.
“My dad was my biggest influence mainly,” he said “We went to the driving range, went to this field that had this stone wall that was a couple feet high. He bought me my first club. It was a 9-iron. I loved it.”
Steckel praised Ruzomberka’s ability to adjust mentally to make himself better in the middle of the season.
“He was consistent most of the year,” said Steckel. “Toward the end, he got better because the video stuff. … That’s important. He saw for the first time, ‘This is what I’m doing,’ and made the correction. Golf is a mental game.”