Since being drafted by the Atlanta Falcons in 2004, Matt Ryan has had an impressive NFL career. He has been named to the Pro Bowl four times, was named the NFL MVP in 2016 and led the Falcons back to their first Super Bowl since 1997.
But as we have noted previously on PGA.com, he also brings an impressive game to the course. We ranked him as our top golfing playoff quarterback last year and PGA Professional Rob Labritz had some fine things to say about his swing.
Plenty is known about Matt Ryan’s football life, but we wanted to get to know Matt Ryan -- the golfer -- a little better.
We caught up with him for a quick chat between shots Monday at his annual celebrity-am golf outing at TPC Sugarloaf. The event -- now in its seventh year -- is a great reflection of his continued community and charitable efforts in the Atlanta area and raises money for the Aflac Cancer and Blood Disorders Center of Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta as well as the Matt Ryan Foundation.
PGA.com: What are your thoughts on the Masters this year?
Ryan: It was unbelievable. Really, really exciting. Obviously, those two in the final pairing were fun to watch. The ball striking was incredible. I’m happy for Sergio to finally do it. He’s been in the chase for a long time and to see him finally get it done was awesome.
PGA.com: What was your favorite shot of the weekend?
Ryan: Kuch hole in one, man! Kuch is my guy. I’ve known Matt for a long time and that was cool to see him hit the hole in one on 16 and see the crowd go crazy. The celebration and throwing the ball to the kid, it was all really cool.
And Sergio’s drives on 18, both times. In the playoff, his drive on 18 and the second shot he hit in, he flushed both of them. They were impressive to watch.
PGA.com: What was it that got you onto the golf course?
Ryan: I played a little bit growing up, a handful of times a year with my dad and my brothers. When I got into the NFL and had some more time during the offseason living here in Georgia, it’s an amazing place to live if you like golf. So, I just started to play some more, took some lessons, and started to get a little better. And I think when you start to see yourself improve and shoot some better scores, it becomes more fun.
PGA.com: What was your motivation to get better at golf?
Ryan: My backup quarterback, it was all about trying to beat Chris Redmen. When I first got (to Atlanta) Chris was my backup for four years. Chris is a good player. And I was tired of losing money to him on the golf course. Every time we’d go out, I was tired of getting beat up by him, so that was kind of my motivation to get better.
PGA.com: What part of your game was really improved by taking some lessons with your PGA Professional?
Ryan: I had to get my ball flight down. I flipped my hands so much at the bottom that I’d spin the ball so much and hit it high. And I already hit it high regardless because I’m so tall. So, getting the flight down, making your misses smaller, starting to strike it better, that was the biggest thing.
PGA.com: What guys do you play with a lot in the NFL?
Ryan: I’ve gotten to play a lot with Matthew Stafford, who I know really well. I’ve played with Aaron Rodgers quite a bit out in Lake Tahoe. He’s always fun to play with. Derek Anderson, he’s a backup with the Carolina Panthers. Derek’s a good player. I compete a lot with those guys and we’re just always trying to beat each other every time we tee it up.
PGA.com: Is Tony Romo as good as the rumors say?
Ryan: Romo is a really good player. He’s a stud. I know he’s had some back issues the last couple years, so I don’t think he’s played as much as he’d like to, but he’s a stud when he's out there.
PGA.com: Favorite memory on the golf course?
Ryan: Probably playing at Muirfield over in Scotland with my dad for the first time. I’ve been over there a couple times but getting to play with him the first time, alternate shot with him as my partner was a lot of fun.