HARTFORD, Conn. – Superb ball-striking and a clutch performance down the stretch by Matthew Fitzpatrick in the final round of the 122nd U.S. Open at The Country Club in Brookline, Mass., enabled the young Englishman to duplicate the victory that he notched in the 2013 U.S. Amateur at the same venue. That was the same year that Justin Rose was the last Englishman to win the U.S. Open, at Merion Golf Club in suburban Philadelphia.
“It’s incredible. It’s 10 million times better than I thought I would feel,” said Fitzpatrick, the Sheffield United fanatic who has become the new ‘Brookline Brawler‘. “I never wanted to say it, but it felt like it was meant to be. I’ve played so well so many times and come up just shy. For it to happen here, it just felt right.”
Fitzpatrick hit 17 of 18 greens in regulation while shooting a closing, 2-under-par 68 for a 72-hole total of 6-under 274 and a one-stroke victory over Masters champion Scottie Scheffler and Will Zalatoris, who lost the PGA Championship in a three-hole aggregate playoff with Justin Thomas. No. 1 Scheffler, No. 5 Thomas and No. 14 Zalatoris are all in the 156-man field in the Travelers Championship at TPC River Highlands in Cromwell on Thursday through Sunday.
Fitzpatrick, 27, joined Jack Nicklaus (Pebble Beach), who called Fitzpatrick after the awards ceremony, and Juli Inkster (Prairie Dunes) as the only players to win the U.S. Open and U.S. Amateur on the same course. He also was the just the 13th player to capture the U.S. Open and U.S. Amateur, the first being in 1913 by amateur Francis Ouimet, who lived across the street from the 17th hole at The Country Club. Fitzpatrick won $3.15 million and received the U.S. Open trophy and gold Jack Nicklaus medal to drape around his neck.
Fitzpatrick capped his winning effort with a brilliant 159-yard fairway bunker shot on the 18th hole that stopped 18 feet above the hole.
“If there was one shot that I’ve struggled with this year that I just do not want, it’s a fairway bunker shot,” Fitzpatrick said. “I guess (caddie) Billy (Foster) just took over. It’s one of the best shots I’ve hit of all-time. When I saw it leave the sand and I felt the strike, I couldn’t be happier.”
Fitzpatrick missed his birdie putt to clinch the title, but when playing partner Zalatoris’ bid from 15 feet slid just left of the cup, he dropped to his knees as Fitzpatrick became the second consecutive non-American to win a major at The Country Club after 15 straight U.S. successes. And he won previously in Brookline with his brother, Alex, caddying for him.
Alex, the remainder of his family and No. 3 Rory McIlroy, who tied for fifth at 278 before heading to Cromwell, were waiting for Fitzpatrick as he walked off the 18th green after his eighth victory worldwide but first on the PGA Tour. He also became the first player from England to win a major since Tony Jacklin in the 1970 U.S. Open.
“Matt’s shot on 18 is going to be shown probably for the rest of U.S. Open history,” Zalatoris said. “I walked by it, and I thought that going for it was going to be ballsy. But that fact that he pulled it off and even had a birdie look was just incredible. So hat’s off to him. He played great all week obviously and gave a solid round today.”
Fitzpatrick and Zalatoris started the day tied for the lead at 5 under, but bogeys on the second and third holes led to Zalatoris falling six strokes back after six holes. But he birdied four of the next six holes to take a one-stroke lead over Fitzpatrick, who had three birdies in a front-nine, 2-under 33, and Scheffler, who was playing two groups in front of the leaders and birdied four of the first six holes.
Fitzpatrick made an unlikely 50-foot birdie putt at the 13th hole to get to 5 under, but Zalatoris remained even with a 12-foot par putt after another errant drive to the right. Meanwhile, Scheffler hit a brilliant approach shot from the rough to 5 feet at the par-5 14th hole, where he sank a 105-yard wedge shot for eagle on Saturday, but missed the birdie putt to stay a stroke back.
Zalatoris hit his tee shot on the par-3 16th hole to 5 feet and converted the birdie putt to tie Scheffler and move within a stroke of Fitzpatrick. The young Englishman responded with a wedge shot to 10 feet at the famous par-4 17th hole, and Zalatoris hit his approach to 12 feet. Meanwhile, Scheffler hit his approach to 25 feet at No. 18, but his birdie bid slid just left of the cup, giving him a closing 67 for 275.
Zalatoris’ birdie putt curled around the cup at No. 17, while Fitzpatrick’s came up short. On the par-4 18th hole, Zalatoris hit his drive into the fairway before Fitzpatrick hooked his into a fairway bunker. With thousands of the fans allowed to walk up the fairway, Fitzpatrick hit his approach to 18 feet above the pin. Zalatoris responded with a 129-yard wedge shot to 15 feet, and after Fitzpatrick missed his birdie try, Zalatoris’ bid to force a fourth U.S. Open playoff at The Country Club slid left of the cup, forcing him to settle for a 69.
“It’s what you grow up dreaming of winning, and I’ve worked so hard for such a long time,” Fitzpatrick said. “I had the big monkey on my back of not winning in the United States. It was all everybody walked about, and to do it in a major, there’s nothing better.”
Defending champion Jon Rahm closed with 74 to finish in a tie for 12th at 281. Travelers Championship defending champion Harris English shot 77 for a tie for 61st at 297 in only his second start since hip surgery on Feb. 14. English won a record eight-hole playoff last year with Kramer Hickok, who is also in the Travelers Championship field.
Next up The Travelers Championship and notable players who will be at TPC River Highlands are four of the Top 5 players and six of the Top 10 in the world, including No. 4 Patrick Cantlay; No. 8 Viktor Hovland; No. 9 Sam Burns; No. 10 Jordan Spieth, the 2017 champion; No. 12 Xander Schauffele; No. 15 Tony Finau; No. 17 Joaquin Niemann, No. 19 Brooks Koepka and past champions Chez Reavie (2019), Russell Knox (2016), Kevin Streelman (2014), Marc Leishman (2012), Stewart Cink (1997 and 2008) and Fairfield native J.J. Henry (2006), the only Connecticut player to win the event.