Fitzpatrick a winner again at Brookline as US Open champion

Matt Fitzpatrick of England is Country Club Champion again, this time with the biggest trophy in golf.

BROOKLINE, Mass. (AP) – Matt Fitzpatrick of England is country club champion again, this time with the biggest trophy in golf.

A US Amateur Champion in 2013. The Sunday US Open Champion.

In a three-way battle at Brookline that ended to the wire, Fitzpatrick took control with a great break and an even better shot on the 15th hole for a two-shot swing. He was just as good as a fairway bunker on the 18th that made par for a 2-under 68 shot.

Victory was not assured until Will Zalatoris, who amazingly fought back after each mistake, fell to his knees when his 15-foot birdie putt just slid past the left side of the cup on the 18th. Zlatoris, who graduated at 69, finished second in the second straight Major.

Masters champion Scottie Scheffler never recovered from consecutive bogeys to start the back nine that cost him the lead. On the 18th, he had a 25-foot birdie shot that narrowly missed, leaving him with a 67.

Along with the $3.15 million prize money, Fitzpatrick had this gold Jack Nicklaus medal draped around his neck, which was only fitting.

Fitzpatrick is the second man to win a US Amateur and a US Open on the same course, along with Nicklaus, who spun the trick at Pebble Beach. July Inkster won the US Women’s Amateur and US Women’s Open at Prairie Dunes.

Fitzpatrick, who briefly played for Northwestern before turning pro, was his eighth world win, and this was his first in America – at least one tournament that everyone knows. He won membership at The Bear’s Club in Florida earlier this year, the course Nicklaus built.

“He berated me a bit earlier in the year. He said, ‘Finally. Congratulations on winning the States,'” Fitzpatrick said.

And then Fitzpatrick lifted the trophy slightly and sent a funny message to Nicklaus: “Jack, I won a second time.”

It took a good break, a signature shot and some guts at the end.

Fitzpatrick and Zulatoris were level on points until the 15th when the Englishman hit his tee shot so far to the right that he went to the gallery and found a decent lie on dead and trampled grass. Zalatoris missed him by only a few meters and was buried in deep grass.

He hit 5-iron from 220 yards to 18 feet under the hole. Zulatoris went into the front bunker, blasted to 25 feet and bogeyed. Fitzpatrick took a two-shot lead when his birdie putt went into the cup with such perfect pace that he didn’t even touch the pin he left in the cup.

Zatoris bounced back and took a hard pin on the 16-7 foot par 3 for Birdie to cut the lead in one shot. Both missed 12-foot birdie chances in the 17th, and then Fitzpatrick missed a mistimed fairway and pulled it left into a bunker with a steep stretch of rough right in front of him.

It looked like a playoff would be paramount – the previous three US Opens at Brookline have all been decided by a playoff – and then Fitzpatrick fearlessly hit a fade with a 9-iron that carried the gaping bunker off the green to take 18 foot away settled down.

He missed just wide and could only watch as Zatoris missed his last chance.

“Matt’s shot at 18 will probably be shown for the rest of US Open history,” Zatoris said. “I walked past it thinking it would be brave to try. But the fact that he pulled it off and even had a birdie look was just amazing.

“So hats off to him. He’s played great all week and put in a solid round today.”

Fitzpatrick finished with 6 under 134.

Fitzpatrick, 27, who became the first Englishman to win the US Open since Justin Rose in 2013, felt his time was near. He meticulously records his shots and keeps a record of everyone to determine what needs editing. And he’s emphasized speed in his swing for the past two years, which has given him the length and faith to compete with anyone.

That didn’t make Sunday any easier, a three-man race from the start as Jon Rahm and Rory McIlroy fell behind and never rejoined the mix.

Fitzpatrick and Zatoris, who shared the 54-hole lead, each held a two-shot lead at one point.

Zlatoris, who lost in a playoff to Justin Thomas in the PGA Championship last month, recovered from two early bogeys. They were tied when Zatoris made an 18-foot birdie putt on the short par-3 11, and Fitzpatrick made three putts for bogey from the same distance.

The 25-year-old from Dallas was suddenly two shots ahead. He also failed to keep the ball in the fairway, costing him a dropped shot at No. 12. And then came another big turning point when Fitzpatrick potted a 50-foot birdie putt over the 13th green. Zulatoris did well to make his 15-foot shot par and they headed for the tense finish.

Scheffler was still hanging around on his bid for a second major that year, but all others became a distant memory. Hideki Matsuyama had the week’s lowest lap at 65, but he ended up 3 under 277 and that was never going to be good enough.

In the end, it was Fitzpatrick who embraced his family on the green, including his younger brother Alex, who caddyed for him with the US amateurs and recently turned pro.

And there was his caddy, Billy Foster, one of the most popular and long-serving loopers in Europe, who had never been on the bag for a major through Sunday.

“Billy said it for a while to do what you do and the opportunity will come,” Fitzpatrick said. “It did, and I took it.”

Joel Dahmen finished the tournament in the same 10th place. The former husky was the co-leader after two rounds.

https://www.king5.com/article/sports/golf/fitzpatrick-a-winner-again-at-brookline-as-us-open-champion/281-f4210dde-9101-4417-943f-db3d4b395dbd Fitzpatrick a winner again at Brookline as US Open champion

Emma Bowman

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