Matt Fitzpatrick has said his maiden major win, achieved at the US Open on Sunday, surpassed his wildest dreams.
The 27-year-old from Sheffield had never won a professional event in the US before seeing off Will Zalatoris at the end of an epic battle at Brookline. A day later Fitzpatrick remained on cloud nine.
“It’s way better than I ever expected,” Fitzpatrick said. “It’s something I dreamed of as a little kid, everyone wants to win a major and to have done it – I honestly didn’t believe it would feel as good as it does. To have that feeling is incredible. It’s really something special. I just want to take it all in.”
Key to his achievement was a widely acclaimed bunker shot on the tournament’s 72nd hole. From 159 yards the Englishman fired an iron to inside 20ft. There were shades, in fact, of Sandy Lyle’s fantastic recovery from sand on the 18th during the final day of the 1988 Masters.
“I wasn’t looking forward to that shot,” Fitzpatrick said. “I have struggled with fairway bunkers all year. Billy [Foster, Fitzpatrick’s caddie] has been on at me for a while to improve that. I have practised it but have just struggled, it hasn’t been my forte. In the heat of the moment natural ability took over, I tried not to think too much about it and hit the shot of my life.”
The champion’s younger brother, Alex, has just turned professional after a successful college career in the US. He will play in the upcoming Irish Open having shunned lucrative offers from the Saudi Arabian-backed LIV Series.
“This reinforces to me that I made the right decision with LIV,” Alex said.
“It was money being thrown at me and more money than I could comprehend but what was the risk? Matt’s win has just highlighted to me why I practise so hard every day. It’s about the dream not money, although the money is, of course, very nice. Matt helped me make my choice, along with my parents, and this just shows that we made the right decision. I can’t tell you how much I would love to achieve what my brother has. He isn’t anywhere near finished either.”
Dustin Johnson was the highest LIV-associated finisher at the US Open in joint 27th place. Fitzpatrick denied thoughts of golf’s wider, troubled landscape were in his mind at all at Brookline but he is clear where his career focus lies.
“All I was thinking about was trying to win,” he said. “You want to win majors, you want to win on the European Tour and the PGA Tour. That’s what it is all about.”