‘It felt more like a holiday than the US Amateur Championship!’: Matt Fitzpatrick recalls incredible Brookline triumph as an 18-year-old ahead of his return for US Open as England’s leading hope
- Matt Fitzpatrick was caddied by his brother in remarkable triumph back in 2013
- He was there with family and spoke about how relaxed he felt all week
- The 27-year-old from Sheffield has taken his game to another level this year
- He is England’s leading hope for the US Open at Brookline, starting on Thursday
Matt Fitzpatrick could hardly believe what he was watching. ‘We were so small and so young!’ he exclaimed.
‘How on earth did we end up winning? It’s a really weird viewing experience.’
It’s also one of the best in the long and rich history of the US Amateur Championship. The story of the two brothers, player Matt and caddie Alex, looking like they should be competing in the US Kids Championship; instead, Matt, at the tender age of 18, became the first Englishman in more than a century to win the biggest title in American amateur golf.
‘My abiding memory was how relaxed the entire week was,’ recalled the Sheffield man, now 27.
Matt Fitzpatrick won the US Amateur Championship as a fresh-faced 18-year-old
His father Russell, brother Alex and mother Sue were all there with him at Brookline
‘The whole family was there and it honestly felt more like a holiday than a prestigious competition. I guess in a dream world it would be like that every week but it’s hard, as we know, when you’re grinding away on the PGA Tour and it’s taking your energy away.’
The venue was Brookline, and it comes as no surprise to learn that a local family of members who welcomed them into their home took the engaging brothers under their wing.
Matt has been back on a number of occasions and will be staying with the family once more this week as the US Open returns to the Boston beauty for the first time since Curtis Strange beat Sir Nick Faldo in a play-off in 1988.
‘It’s been on my radar since it was first announced a few years ago,’ said Fitzpatrick. ‘The first goal was to make sure I was in the field, and now it feels special to be going there thinking that I’ve got a chance to win.. I’ve played there quite a few times since the Amateur in 2013, including last year. It’s great to be playing at a US Open venue that I know so well.’
Fitzpatrick’s confidence is backed up by a season to date where his game has clearly moved up a level. On Sunday at the Canadian Open, he notched his seventh top ten of the season.
‘There were two areas that needed improving and that was my approach play and my short game,’ he said.
Fitzpatrick has taken his game to another level this season and is eyeing a major triumph
‘I started hitting some chip shots cross-handed a couple of years ago and now I use the method for all shots around the greens apart from out of bunkers, and it’s really helped. I’ve also put on some length off the tee, thanks to my speed training over the last 18 months. I guess I also just feel comfortable now out here on the PGA Tour. I expect to do well.’
A seven-time winner on the DP World Tour, the only thing missing is a breakthrough first success.
He had a golden chance to make it a major at the USPGA Championship at Southern Hills three weeks ago but spluttered in the final round, eventually finishing two strokes out of the play-off.
‘I haven’t really had a chance to process it yet but I clearly didn’t drive it well in the final round,’ he said.
Fitzpatrick has transformed from the youngster who wowed the crowds back in 2013
‘It was funny learning that some of the commentators on television thought my routine was too quick. They’ve clearly never seen me play. I’ve always liked to play fast. The way I see it, the longer you take, the more it gets in your head.
‘One thing I have noted was how confident I felt before going out to play. Even though I was three shots behind, I really had the belief that I was going to win. Maybe the next chance I get I need to calm that down a bit.’
Now it’s back to Brookline. The pint-sized boy who stunned the amateur world eight years ago returns fully-grown – and the leading English hope.
The Sheffield native is a huge talent and finding great consistency to his game