Fitzpatrick Finally

Boston's U.S. Open tea party fit for an Englishman

US Open 2022 – Fitzpatrick Finally

US Open 2022 - Fitzpatrick Finally
(Jeff Haynes/USGA)

Estimated reading time: 7 minutes

BROOKLINE, MA. Somewhere in the cosmos the spirits of Harry Vardon and Ted Ray are smiling as fellow countryman Matthew Fitzpatrick did what neither of the two was able to accomplish in 1913 — win the U.S. Open at The Country Club.

Vardon and Ray were vanquished by an unheralded former caddie at the club named Francis Ouimet who lit the match for the ascendant nature of American golf which followed.

US Open 2022 – Fitzpatrick Finally

Fitzpatrick displayed a tour de force performance in besting the likes of Scottie Scheffler, the world number one ranked player and the emerging talent of Will Zalatoris who has become a persistent force in major events. 

The 27-year-old Englishman scored a final round 68 for a four-round total of 274 providing a one-shot victory margin over his two closest pursuers who shared the runner-up position.

Fitzpatrick followed up this week from his triumph in 2013 at the U.S. Amateur when he captured the grand prize of amateur golf at The Country Club. He becomes just the third golfer to achieve the feat in winning the Open and Amateur championships respectively of the USGA at the same course. The other two are Jack Nicklaus who did so at Pebble Beach and on the women’s side the feat was accomplished by Juli Inkster at Prairie Dunes. The tie to the Golden Bear noticeably resonated with Fitzpatrick.

US Open 2022 – Fitzpatrick Finally

“Any time you’re sharing a record with Jack Nicklaus, it’s unbelievable. So, for me to have that as well is incredible. He called me up down there just at the presentation to congratulate me. Coming from someone like that, it means the world.”

Fitzpatrick’s tee-to-green play was surgeon-like in its precision. Hitting all but one green in the regulation stroke in a final round at a U.S. Open was beyond remarkable The most impressive came at the final hole when his tee shot found a fairway bunker on the left side. Holding a one-shot lead over Scheffler and Zalatoris the possibility of a playoff seemed plausible — so was the possibility of losing the lead for good. 

US Open 2022 – Fitzpatrick Finally

Fortunately, for Fitzpatrick the position and lie of the ball in the bunker provided him the opportunity to hit a 9-iron approach that reached the putting surface and provided him with a two-putt par. That left matters up to Zalatoris to birdie from 15 feet to create a tie for the championship. The putt just missed to the left and made Fitzpatrick the first Englishman to claim the title since Justin Rose did so in 2013 at Merion.

“Matt’s shot on 18 is going to be shown probably for the rest of U.S. Open history,” said Zalatoris. “I walked by it, and I thought that going for [the green] was going to be [gutsy], but the fact that he pulled it off and even had a birdie look was just incredible. So, hats off to him. He played great all week.”

US Open 2022 – Fitzpatrick Finally

The win was also Fitzpatrick’s first major championship victory and his first as a professional in the USA. He has won seven times previously on the DP Tour in Europe.

To say Fitzpatrick is fond of TCC would be an understatement of epic proportions.

“I love playing this golf course. It suits me so well. It suits my game well. I’ve been playing well for a while, and I think it all just fell into place that this was the place it was going to happen.”

Fitzpatrick started the final round tied for the lead with Zalatoris and the two were paired together. Both men had to withstand the surge of Scheffler who birdied four of the first six holes.

The quiet self-effacing Fitzpatrick stayed focused through the round but what stood out were two impactful birdie putts — the first coming at the dangerous par-4 13th when he curled into the hole a 49-footer and the second from 18 feet at the long par-4 15th when his drive missed wide right leaving him nearly 225 yards from the hole.

(Robert Beck/USGA)

US Open 2022 – Fitzpatrick Finally

Fitzpatrick has a youthful appearance but the determination and competitive fire burns hot.

“I’ve always felt like I had it [competitiveness]. I’ve always been competitive, and that comes from my dad as well. My dad was always competitive with us as juniors. I just love winning. I absolutely love winning. I don’t care who it is, but I just want to beat everyone. Although it doesn’t come across — like I don’t show it much because I like to be quite reserved. Yeah, I just love beating everyone. It’s as simple as that. Anyone else on TOUR would say the same thing. That’s why the guys are the best, and that’s why they play so well. Just love winning.”

Next up — the 150th Open Championship set for St. Andrews in mid-July. Fitzpatrick is eager for the event.

“I love playing St. Andrews. It’s a great golf course. It’s going to be interesting, obviously, with the length and everything. And now I’m a bomber, I’ll probably be driving most of the greens [laughter]”

US Open 2022 – Fitzpatrick Finally

It helps that Fitzpatrick has been on a conditioning program and his previous modest length off the tee has been boasted considerably.

“Since 2020, I spent a lot of time working with Mike Walker and my coach and biomechanist Sasho Mackenzie. We did a little bit then, and he gave me this speed stick called The Stack. I’ve been doing that religiously week in and week out. It’s like going to the gym basically. It’s like a training program. I’ll be honest, it’s worked wonders.”

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With three of the four majors now concluded it is clear the next generation of players is now firmly in place to battle one another in the years ahead with Scheffler taking the green jacket at Augusta and Justin Thomas edging out Zalatoris for the PGA Championship title last month.

When Fitzpatrick was selected for the 2016 Ryder Cup matches at Hazeltine, he seemed out of his element and Euro team captain Darren Clarke used him only twice and, in both instances, he was soundly beaten. 

Much has changed since then. When 2021 drew to a close Fitzpatrick was ranked 24th in the world — he’s now 10th. Don’t be fooled by his quiet demeanor or define it as arrogance. The Sheffield golf star lets his clubs do the talking and during Sunday’s final round he played the most demanding of shots, most notably at the 18th in a virtuoso manner.

US Open 2022 – Fitzpatrick Finally

Fitzpatrick was quick to share credit with his caddie Billy Foster and his family.

“My parents — I mean, I wouldn’t be without them. They did such an amazing job with me. That was the thing, they always taught me to be humble and to be down to earth, and if they’re not bringing me back down to earth, my friends are. That will always be me.”

The 122nd U.S. Open waited 34 years to return to the greater Boston area and the end result provided a modern golf tea party — however, this time instead of American revolutionaries leading the parade it has an Englishman in the front row.

What Ted Ray and Harry Vardon could not do in 1913 has come full circle with Matthew Fitzpatrick making his case in 2013 at the U.S. Amateur and now driving it even further with an exclamation statement with a stirring victory at the U.S. Open.