20 Jul 2022

Matt Fitzpatrick’s decade of success

To make it in any sport, you need a grit and hunger to succeed, regardless of any physical advantage you may possess. Matt Fitzpatrick still looks like a schoolboy and not a linebacker like Brooks Koepka and Bryson DeChambeau, but he’s taught himself to punch above his weight in a sport that is now dominated by power.

Matt was born with this single mindedness and when you think he’s mapped every shot heís played since being an amateur to give him the edge, it just goes to show the focus he had from the start. I first met Matt over ten years ago at Pete Cowen’s driving range in Sheffield, it was tipping down with rain and this young lad was hitting frozen ropes for fun. The main thing that struck me was the focus he had while practicing.

He wasn’t trying to bust it through the back of the range like every other teenager, he was practicing with pure focus ñ on every shot! Now that wasn’t normal. So, when he lifted the U.S. Open trophy it didn’t come as surprise to many close to him, in fact Pete Cowen in last month’s column pretty much said that Matt was going win a Major and had been quietly knocking on the door for a while.

I hope he celebrated harder than when he won the British Masters back in 2015 – I bumped into Matt and his brother Alex coming back from Woburn that evening on the M6 services. They were tucking into a Subway and Coke having forgotten to eat after the presentation. Since sharing that meal deal with his brother, Matt has gone on to earn more than $10 million, and the U.S Open victory has made him hungry for more Major honours.

Amateur success – 2012-2013

Fitzpatrick enjoys a glittering amateur career, which includes winning the Boys Amateur Championship in 2012. A year later he tops the World Amateur Golf Ranking after winning the 2013 US Amateur – a tournament featuring Bryson DeChambeau, World No 1 Scottie Scheffler, Olympic gold medallist Xander Schauffele and Will Zalatoris – at The Country Club, Brookline. That same year he claims the Silver Medal as low amateur at The 2013 Open Championship and represents Great Britain & Ireland in the Walker Cup.

Turning pro – 2014

Fitzpatrick turns professional after the 2014 U.S. Open, forfeiting his exemption to the 2014 Open Championship that was granted to him following his US Amateur triumph. The Sheffield-born star makes his first professional start at the 2014 Irish Open, finishing in a share of 29th. He makes a number of outings on sponsor and tournament invites throughout the rest of the season before finishing the year on a high by gaining his DP World Tour playing privileges through Qualifying School.

First triumph – 2015

In his rookie season on Tour, Fitzpatrick ends the year 12th on the season-long DP World Tour Rankings after registering eight top five finishes, which includes a share of fourth at the season-ending DP World Tour Championship and his first Tour victory at the Betfred British Masters. The triumph at Woburn is the first for an Englishman since Lee Westwood in 2007 while Fitzpatrick also becomes the first rookie to win wire-to-wire since Pablo Larrazábal did so at the 2008 Alstom Open de France.

Maiden Ryder Cup – 2016

The youngster finishes in a share of seventh on his first professional start at the Masters Tournament before going on to collect his second piece of DP World Tour silverware at the Nordea Masters. His form helps him secure a debut Ryder Cup appearance later that year at Hazeltine National, but finishes the week with zero points from two matches. He bounces back superbly from his Ryder Cup disappointment to win the DP World Tour Championship two months later and in doing so, at the age of the age of 22 years and 80 days, becomes the youngest Englishman to win his first three DP World Tour titles. This beats the previous best of Sir Nick Faldo, who was 22 years and 300 days, when he won his third event the 1980 Sun Alliance PGA Championship.

Winning run continues – 2017

Fitzpatrick extends his run of consecutive winning seasons to three after beating Australia’s Scott Hend at the third hole of a sudden-death play at the Omega European Masters. Aged 23 years and nine days, Fitzpatrick becomes the youngest player to reach four DP World Tour wins since Matteo Mannassero won the 2014 BMW PGA Championship aged 20 years and 37 days.

Successful defence – 2018

Becomes the first person to successfully defend his title at the Omega European Masters since Seve Ballesteros in 1978 with a play-off victory over Lucas Bjerregaard at Crans-sur-Sierre. Despite the victory, Fitzpatrick fails to earn enough points for an automatic spot in Europe’s Ryder Cup team and is overlooked by Thomas Bjorn in his four Captain’s Picks, choosing to go with the experience of Ian Poulter, Paul Casey, Sergio Garcia and Henrik Stenson.

First winless season – 2019

Fitzpatrick sets his sights on earning a PGA Tour card and does just that that thanks to a runner-up finish at the Arnold Palmer Invitational and a share of fourth at the WGC-FedEx St. Jude Invitational. Fails to win an event on the DP World Tour for the first time since turning professional but posts four second place finishes to end the season fifth in the DP World Tour Rankings – his highest finish yet.

Dubai double – 2020

Looks as if he is headed for a second straight season without a win before coming up trumps in the DP World Tour’s finale – the season-ending DP World Tour Championship at Jumeirah Golf Estates. As well as rising to a career-high of 16th in the Official World Golf Ranking with the victory, Fitzpatrick also finishes the season second in the season-long Rankings, beating his previous best of fifth from the year before.

Ryder Cup redemption? – 2021

Fitzpatrick qualifies automatically for the delayed Ryder Cup but fails to banish the demons of his two disappointing defeats from 2016 as he finishes the week with zero points from a possible three en route to Europe’s record-breaking defeat at Whistling Straits. Just as he did in 2016, Fitzpatrick bounces back to win the Estrella Damm N.A. Andalucia Masters at famed Valderrama with a bogey-free final round.

Maiden Major – 2022

Fitzpatrick begins 2022 with a fine run of play in the in the States, posting five top-10s in his first six starts on the PGA Tour. That form gives him the confidence of claiming a first Major title and he nearly does just that at the PGA Championship, finishing just two strokes adrift of eventual champion Justin Thomas at Southern Hills. But just three starts later, Sheffield’s superstar etches his name into Major silverware with a superb display at the Country Club in Brookline to win the U.S. Open – nine years after winning the U.S. Amateur Championship at the same venue, becoming just the second golfer next to Jack Nicklaus to win the U.S. Open and U.S. Amateur on the same golf course.

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