Just three weeks ago Matthew Fitzpatrick was still rueing a golden missed chance to win a first major title at the PGA Championship at Southern Hills, after narrowly losing out by just two shots. A painful near miss like that can often be a tough one to take, but not one for being knocked down, Fitzpatrick was determined to redeem his misfortune at the next possible occasion.
In the midst of his top three finish at Southern Hills, was the ongoing saga surrounding the Saudi-backed breakaway circuit led by ex-world No. 1 Greg Norman, which had sent the golfing world into disarray after luring some of the PGA Tour’s biggest names in Dustin Johnson and Phil Mickelson to sign up, thanks to a whole host of mega-money leap in the dark payouts.
Like the rest of the sport’s elite Fitzpatrick was approached by Norman and his team to join the contentious series – which after months of deliberation, eventually kicked off early this month.
For the Englishman though it was an easy decision – unlike for some of his fellow Tour stars – and that decision was no. Speaking exclusively to Mirror Sport earlier this month, Fitzpatrick revealed that he was in this game to ‘compete for legacies, trophies and major wins’ – echoing the thoughts of the great Tiger Woods.
Just weeks on from his claim the Sheffield-born star has more than lived up to his word, delivering exactly that after collecting his maiden major title by winning the US Open on Sunday. This was not just any major championship win though, this was one with extra meaning – after clinching victory on the course where it all began for him.
Just nine years prior, Fitzpatrick first burst on the scene when becoming the first Englishman to win the lucrative US Amatuer title in a 102 years back in 2013 around the Brookline setup. Just under a decade later, the 27-year-old was back to make history again, and boy did he do that.
Back in 2013 at just 18-years-old, Fitzpatrick had his younger brother – and fellow pro – Alex on the bag to help guide him to victory. Fast forward nine years and on the very same green where the two brothers shared their amateur victory, Alex was the first man greeting older brother Matt after his heroic major win.
Legacy is a word that is often thrown around in the world at sport, and at the age of just 27 is it possible to say Fitzpatrick has made his? Yes, yes it is. Not only is his double Brookline triumph one of golf’s great stories, it has also resonated across the whole sporting world ,and is a story that will be etched into the game’s history books for good.
However, it was not just the back story that made this victory so remarkable; it was how Fitzpatrick went about his business on the course, with his approach shot from a fairway bunker into the 18th green worthy of a legacy of its own. The 27-year-old’s impressive recent run has been no secret on the PGA Tour, the only thing missing was a precious victory on golf’s most sought after circuit. Across the last few months the Englishman has come agonisingly close to breaking his duck on US soil, with his showing at the PGA Championship a perfect example.
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Out at Brookline though, it seems the Sheffield man is a different beast. Heading into the final day of a major at the top of the tree is no easy task, and has seen some of the sport’s greatest ever crack under the resounding pressure. Fitzpatrick however went about his business like he’d done it 10 times over, even when things did not go his way.
Not to mention, the 27-year-old was up against the world’s No. 1 player in Scottie Scheffler and the tour’s hottest prospect in Will Zalatoris in a three-way battle at the top. This fierce competition didn’t unnerve Fitzpatrick though, as he kept his cool throughout to ensure his name was the one engraved on the famous trophy come Sunday evening.
In the weeks building up to the event, golf found itself in a broken spot, with a number of of the world’s best selling their – and the sport’s – soul in exchange for a payout place on the LIV Golf rollercoaster. Despite this, Fitzpatrick gave golf exactly what it needed over the past week, creating a moment and legacy that money can not buy.