Matt Wilson thought he had his athletic future all planned out. He’d follow in his big brother’s footsteps and play baseball at Servite, then see where the sport took him from there.
Then one day as an eighth grader, Wilson pulled a few old golf clubs from his garage, dropped a couple balls on a tattered door mat and began hitting into a net that previously snared thousands of baseballs over the years.
He soon made another discovery that changed his direction for good.
“I figured out there was a golf course right by my house,” he said. “I used to just walk there every single day.”
Wilson not only became hooked on golf; he discovered he was a natural.
Five years later and Wilson’s on the back nine of his final season as the top golfer at Servite and, arguably, the best player in Orange County.
He defended his Trinity League title by 12 strokes last week after shooting a two-under-par 69 on the first day at Yorba Linda Country Club and 67 on the second, a year after winning the same tournament by seven strokes. He’s the first-ever two-time Trinity League boys’ golf champion.
Last season, the Orange County Register voted Wilson the boys’ high school golfer of the year after he finished with an 18-hole stroke average of 74.8. He signed a letter of intent last fall to continue his playing career at Cal State Fullerton and picked up where he left off with the Friars this spring.
In March, he shot a 5-under 67 at Recreation Park Golf Course in Long Beach to help Servite topple Long Beach Wilson, then came back with a 2-under 216 at the Golf Club at Terra Lago in Indio to help the Friars win the Champions Invitational for the second year in a row.
What lies ahead in the closing weeks of Wilson’s senior year are the biggest events of the season, section championships, regionals, divisionals and finally, he hopes, the state championships at Poppy Hills Golf Course in early June.
“My goal has always been to get a ring for the team,” Wilson said. “If I can do something individually, that’s cool too, but my first priority is for the team. Share the success with everybody.”
Wilson grew up and still lives in Cypress, the same city where Tiger Woods was raised. Wilson also has honed his skills at the same public facility, the Seal Beach Navy Course, but didn’t start playing nearly as early as Woods.
Raised in a baseball family, Wilson watched his older brother, Jared Wilson, who was a star at Servite in both football and baseball, and who then pitched two more years at Cypress College. Jared earned a scholarship to UC Santa Barbara, where he was drafted by the Minnesota Twins in the 35th round following his junior season in 2012.
Jared passed on that opportunity, returned to Santa Barbara for his senior year and was then selected by the Twins in the 19th round the following season. Jared is currently in his third season of minor league ball, playing for Cedar Rapids at the Single-A level, where he got off to a 2-0 start with a 2.38 ERA.
Matt Wilson figures to have a busy summer as well. He’s planning to enter qualifying tournaments for both the U.S. Open and U.S. Amateur this year. In the meantime, he still has plenty to accomplish at the high school level.