BROOKLINE: Scrappy English underdog Matt Fitzpatrick, hardened in steel town Sheffield, endured epic pressure and hit the shot of his life when it mattered most on Sunday to win the US Open. The 27-year-old blasted a stunning 9-iron from a left fairway bunker onto the 18th green and two-putted for par from 18 feet to capture his first major title. “It’s one of the best shots I ever hit. There’s no doubt about it,” he said. “That probably is such a huge shot in the moment.
“If I’m honest, I look back to my three approaches into 15, 16, and 17 as all really good shots – 18 was kind of just a bit of hit and hope. “It just all happened so fast. It was like just kind of natural ability took over… it was amazing. “The feeling is out of this world. It’s stuff you dream of as a kid. To achieve it, I can retire a happy man tomorrow.” Fitzpatrick credits his upbringing with developing the work ethic and discipline that paid off with a dream come true at The Country Club, where he had won the 2013 US Amateur.
“It’s a steel town, but I love Sheffield. It’s great. It’s where I’m from. It’s where my football team’s from. It’s where all my best pals are from,” Fitzpatrick said. “I feel like I’m the same deal. Not expected to do well, not expected to succeed. I’ve won a major today. “I feel like I certainly work hard for it, and that’s kind of where I’ve grown up from is that’s the mentality of everyone around there. It’s certainly like underdog mentality and you work for what you get.”
For the past two years, part of that effort has been a fitness training program that has him hitting longer off the tee. “Since I’ve been hard on it from the start this year, I’ve noticed an even bigger jump without really feeling like I’m going after it,” Fitzpatrick said. “For me hitting driver and pitching it on the green, I didn’t actually expect that this morning. That was kind of a real good indication of where I’ve got to.”
Major for caddie Foster
Fitzpatrick’s caddie, Billy Foster, is finally the bagman for a major champion after 40 years carrying clubs for such stars as Seve Ballesteros, Lee Westwood, Thomas Bjorn and Darren Clarke. “It means the world to Billy,” said Fitzpatrick. “It’s unbelievable. I know it’s something he’s wanted for a long, long time. To do it today is incredible. “We ended up working together. I was kind of in between caddies. He just split up with Lee, and just happened to work out.
“It’s so funny. He kept telling me the first time on the job, I’ll just do 25 weeks and maybe get a fill-in for the others. I think he’s had about two weeks off in four years.” It was Foster who recognized the improvements in Fitzpatrick’s game and his knowledge of The Country Club could come together into a breakthrough major triumph. “Billy had been saying for a while, the time will come,” Fitzpatrick said. “‘You’re playing so well. Just keep doing what you’re doing. It will come. It will happen.’
“I put myself in position after two rounds and then played well yesterday. I just really believed this could be the time. Because of my success here before, it just felt like this was the time. “It all just fell into place that this was the place it was going to happen.” Fitzpatrick says that it takes six major wins to be a legend. “I’ve got a bit of a way to go, but it’s a good start,” he said. “I’ve just got to keep doing what I’m doing and hopefully more will come. “I’m delighted with one so far.” – AFP