Jack Nicklaus welcomed Matt Fitzpatrick to their exclusive club of two after the Englishman emulated the Golden Bear by winning the US Open and US Amateur on the same course.
Fitzpatrick clinched his first major title on Sunday with a one-stroke victory over world No. 1 Scottie Scheffler and another American in Will Zalatoris, producing one of the best last-hole shots in the majors’ 161-year history. , finding the green here at The Country Club from a tricky spot in a fairway bunker.
It capped off a performance for which Nicklaus, the 18-time overall winner, reserved praise.
“We couldn’t be happier for a really nice young man – a wonderful young man!” Nicklaus, who scored his double at Pebble Beach, posted on social media. “One of the best rounds of golf I’ve ever seen on a final day of the US Open. Matt had the pressure on him, having never won in the US, and got away with it. came out with flying colors! [sic]”
Nicklaus phoned Fitzpatrick after the presentation on the 18th green. “Coming from someone like Jack, it means the world,” said the 27-year-old. “Sharing a record with Jack Nicklaus is amazing. Especially when it’s just him and me. That makes it even more special.
Courtesy of becoming England’s first major winner in six years – 2016 Masters champion Danny Willett was also born in Sheffield – Fitzpatrick broke into the world top 10 for the first time in his career .
The Americans benefited from this first victory for Fitzpatrick on American soil, but he proved himself as a winner on the European Tour, winning seven titles before. And having come out in the final group on the final day of the US PGA last month, he knew he was capable of emulating Justin Rose’s success at the US National Championship in 2013, the same year he won the US Amateur as a teenager.
“I had the big monkey on my back about not winning here, that’s all everyone was talking about and to do it in a major, there’s nothing better,” Fitzaptrick said, before d attribute the breakthrough to the huge progress he has made in the car. this season, which has seen this former short hitter edge out Dustin Johnson in the first two rounds.
“I spent a lot of time working with Mike Walker and my trainer and biomechanist Sasho Mackenzie. Sasha gave me this speed stick called The Stack. I do this religiously week after week. It’s like going to the gym basically. It’s like a training program and it has worked wonders.
“If I was in this position four years ago and I was playing with Will in the final group, I would be scared to be 15, 20 behind him. And I felt comfortable the whole day on the fact that I was going to pass him, which obviously gives me confidence for the next shot knowing that you have less club. There is a bit of a mentality thing, that when you hit in front of people, it is quite nice.
Fitzpatrick was quick to congratulate Billy Foster, the 59-year-old caddy, also from Yorkshire, who finally won a major after 40 years on the Tour in which he worked with the likes of Seve Ballesteros, Darren Clarke, Lee Westwood , Sergio Garcia and Thomas Bjorn.
“I can’t tell you how much that means to Billy,” he said. “It’s amazing. I know it’s something he’s wanted for a very long time. To do it today is amazing.
Foster later admitted that it was his idea for Fitzpatrick to play a three wood off the tee of the last hole, while the golfer favored a driver. Going for the shorter club he found the fairway bunker and at this point a play-off looked favorite. But he hit it from 18 feet in a shot that former United States Ryder Cup captain Paul Azinger called on NBC “as good as Sandy Lyle’s bunker shot.” [on the 18th] in Augusta all those years ago [in 1988].”
“One thing I’ve really struggled with this year is fairway bunker play,” Fitzpatrick said. “A good thing is the way the lie was, it forced me not to go to the pin.
“But I just feel like a fast player, and when I look back it all happened so fast. It was like some kind of natural ability took over and I just played the shot that was handy like I was a junior trying to hit it close And I didn’t want to do that but I just committed on the shot that we kind of planned and came out with it a tight fade. Yeah, that was amazing. That’s one of the best shots I’ve ever done, no doubt.
The lowly Fitzpatrick has always been underestimated and compared to his beloved Sheffield United. “I feel like I’m the same, I don’t expect to do well, I don’t expect to do well. But I won a major today,” he said. he said: “I feel like I worked hard for it, and that’s sort of where I grew from, that’s the mentality of everyone here. It’s a bit like being told that it’s not upper class at all. It’s like an underdog mentality. You work for what you get.
Fitzpatrick will now take two weeks off, before reappearing at the Scottish Open, the week before the 150th Open Championship at St Andrews. After picking up the winning check for £2.3million, he swore it was just the start of his great odyssey.
“Six majors is the number,” he said, declaring his ambition to equal Sir Nick Faldo’s European record in the modern era. “I love playing at St. Andrews. It’s a great golf course. It’s going to be interesting, obviously, with the length and all. Now that I’m a suicide bomber, I’ll probably drive most greens.