Matt Fitzpatrick’s dedication pays dividends after special US Open triumph
20th June 2022

Matt Fitzpatrick celebrates winning the U.S. Open in Brookline

Matt Fitzpatrick’s remarkable transformation is now complete after the Sheffield man dared to dream big and produced a majestic display at Brookline.

A US Open champion with a clairvoyant outlook on the game of golf, the most eye-catching aspect of Fitzpatrick’s surgical final round of 68, which included 17 of 18 greens in regulation, was the smooth yet crushing power he displayed off the tee.

Fitzpatrick’s self-deprecating nature saw him quickly describe himself as a “bomber” in his winner’s press conference while imagining how his newfound game could break down the hallowed Old Course at St Andrews in a few weeks’ time. His versatility, evidenced by gaining just 0.23 strokes putting this week, which had always been the cornerstone of his success, enabled him to become just the second male player in the game’s history to win the US Amateur Championship and the US Open at the same course. The first: Jack Nicklaus.

“It’s not a skill to hit the ball a long way in my opinion,” Fitzpatrick famously said in 2020 when discussing Bryson DeChambeau’s dramatic power increase that led to him winning the US Open that year. “I could put on 40 pounds. I could go and see a biomechanist, and I could gain 40 yards; that’s actually a fact. I could gain that. But the skill in my opinion is to hit the ball straight.”

Fitzpatrick’s trim figure confirms he has not added 40 pounds, but he has added 10.1 yards on average in three years. The move has seen him rocket up from 151st to 63rd on the PGA Tour’s driving statistic, with his club head speed jumping from 112mph to 119mph.

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Will Zalatoris, right, congratulates Matt Fitzpatrick on the 18th green

This week the gains were further pronounced, averaging 309.2 yards off the tee to sit 10th among his peers. He is now outmuscling the likes of Rory McIlroy, Jon Rahm and Scottie Scheffler on the fairways, lending him the sort of intimidating air he might have once feared.

After meticulous work done with swing coach Mike Walker and bio-mechanist Sasho Mackenzie, Fitzpatrick was able to light up The Country Club. The 27-year-old drove the 310-yard fifth before cutting the 557-yard par-five eighth in half with two devastating strokes.

But the most poignant part of Fitzpatrick’s comments, more than two years on, is that despite his commitment to improving his distance, he remains devoted to the skill of accuracy.

Matt Fitzpatrick is embraced by Rory McIlroy on the 18th green

Given the immense pressure, a month on from spurning a glorious chance to break his duck on US soil at the PGA Championship, he executed a staggeringly aggressive strategy.

Fitzpatrick managed to avoid the menacing rough around Brookline 70 per cent of the time, ranking him fifth for the week.

His rise has materialised due to considerable patience and dedication, thanks to thousands of pages of detailed notes since 2003, documenting every single shot played with the help of a database devised by Edoardo Molinari known as StatisticGolf.

That is part of Fitzpatrick’s secret recipe to success, not the gluttony and protein shakes DeChambeau used to reimagine the game, although the pair did bury their beef soon after their public spat, chewing the fat over distance gains on the range two years ago.

Fitzpatrick’s alternative path did not stop Scottie Scheffler, tied-second yesterday and currently the world’s best player, joking that “maybe he was on the Bryson program or something.”

Fitzpatrick shrugged it off: “I’ve done my drug test, and it was negative, so we’re all good.”

A peculiar aspect of Sunday’s historic performance was despite his forensic approach to the game, Fitzpatrick always appeared to be in a hurry. When the biggest moment of his career came on the 72nd hole after hooking his tee shot into the fairway bunker, Fitzpatrick was ready to hit while the commentators were still busy describing the shot’s peril. He got the nod of approval from his caddy Billy Foster, gripped down on an eight-iron and executed what he’d later describe as the shot of his career.

A blur of emotion soon followed and while still raw, Fitzpatrick appeared conscious of his immense work, hinting that merely one major would not satisfy his hunger for success.

“Six is the number,” Fitzpatrick remarked with conviction, which would match Nick Faldo’s haul of major wins.”That’s the number that we all agreed on. I’ve got a bit of a way to go, but it’s a good start. You want to go win more now, there’s no doubt about that.

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“It’s easy to still go off track. I’ve just got to keep doing what I’m doing, and hopefully more will come. I’m delighted with one so far.”

For now, he is thrilled. At The Open next month, he can cement his status as a perennial major contender for many years to come.

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