The PGA Tour season is well underway and with spectators returning to golf courses around the world after two years of uncertainty due to the coronavirus pandemic, normality looks to have resumed.
There’s already been plenty to discuss over the first half of the year — six months of entertainment littered with stories, ranging from the meteoric rise of Scottie Scheffler, who won this year’s Masters for his first major victory, to disagreements over the new Saudi-funded LIV Golf league that has established themselves, offering big money to some of the sport’s best.
Aside from all the controversy, the action on the course has been immense, and the US Open was no exception. Last year saw Jon Rahm victorious, living up to expectations as one of the favourites amongst the golf betting odds, but over the last few months we’ve seen his form nosedive somewhat, struggling in the Memorial Tournament and PGA Championships. Currently ranked number three in the world, his inconsistency paved the way for a new winner in Brookline, Massachusetts — Matt Fitzpatrick.
The English golfer, born in Sheffield, won a maiden major title at the County Club, edging past Will Zalatoris to reign supreme on American shores. Holding his nerve on the 18th green, the 27-year-old’s two-putt for par was enough to settle the victory, and it was clear to see how much it meant to both him and his family, who swarmed onto the course the second they could, elation painted on each of their faces.
Having come tied-for-fifth in the PGA Championship, perhaps exceeding expectations and overachieving somewhat, the free golf tips had him down to cause an upset, and after carrying that good form from Tulsa into the County Club, a 13th hole birdie putt from 48 feet gave him the ascendancy, and despite a hiccup at the 15th, in which his six-under lead was threatened by Zalatoris, the American’s bogey set up a remarkable bunker shot for Fitzpatrick on the 18th to secure victory.
“It’s the one place I didn’t want to be — No. 1 on that list,” Fitzpatrick said. “I’m a fast player, and when I look back, it just all happened so fast,” he said of his second shot at the 18th. “It was like just kind of let natural ability take over. I thought: try to hit it close”
“Although it doesn’t come across, because I like to be quite reserved, I just love beating everyone,” he said. “It’s as simple as that. Just love winning. I want to beat everyone.”
With eight other European Tour victories to his name, including a British Masters win as well as becoming the first Englishman to win a US Amateur title, Fitzpatrick will gain much needed experience from the US Open escapade, now moving to number ten in the world, almost catching up to one of his idols in the game Rory Mcilroy.
The Northern Irishman showed a touch of class when he also congratulated him after the win, and despite a couple of capitulations from fast starts, you feel the 33-year-old is long overdue for a win in a major himself. Only time will tell if Fitzpatrick will kick on from here, but with performances like the one he showed in Brookline he could very well become one of Britain’s best.