Sports · June 21, 2022

US Open: Fitzpatrick wins first major after a thrilling three-way fight

The 27-year-old passed the No. 1 Scottie Scheffler and Will Zalatoris with a single shot after a thrilling roller coaster battle with the American duo in Brookline, Massachusetts.

Victory sees world no. 18 made history as only the second player – and the first non-American – to win both the US Amateurs and the US Open at the same venue, having won at The Country Club in 2013. Jack Nicklaus is the only other golfer to have achieved the feat after the triumphs at Pebble Beach in 1961 and 1972.

He also secured Fitzpatrick a share of $ 3.15 million in the total prize pool of $ 17.5 million, the largest pot in the history of the major league.

His 68, 70, 68 in the first three rounds saw him arrive as co-leader alongside Zalatoris towards the decisive day, where his third 68 was enough to claim a 6-under-par one-shot win.
Fitzpatrick plays his shot from the sixth tee.

“The feeling is out of this world,” Fitzpatrick told reporters.

“It’s so cliché, but it’s stuff you dream of as a kid. To get it, I can retire as a happy man tomorrow.”

Born and raised in the Yorkshire city of Sheffield, Fitzpatrick couldn’t resist making comparisons with his beloved football team, Sheffield United.

“They’re the same business – you don’t expect it to go well, you don’t expect it to succeed,” he said.

“I feel like I work hard for it, and where I grew up that’s the mentality of everyone around there … a loser mentality. You work for what you get.”

Even greater agony for Zalatoris

The tight defeat created even more heartbreak for Zalatoris, who has finished second in three majors in recent years. The 25-year-old lost the Masters by a single blow in 2021, before suffering a playoff defeat to Justin Thomas at the PGA Championship in May.

Despite losing by the same margin of error, Zalatoris said Sunday’s loss of measurement would take longer to process than the Masters’.

“It stings,” Zalatoris told reporters. “Obviously we are doing the right things.

“I’d pay a lot of money for about an inch and a half, and I’d probably be a three-time world champion at this point.

“This particularly hurts particularly, but it’s motivating. I have to keep doing what I’m doing. I know sooner or later I’ll have one.”

Zalatoris plays his shot from the 18th tee.

Meanwhile, Scheffler narrowly missed the elevation of his spectacular calendar year with a second big win, having won the Masters in April and adding three more PGA Tour wins.

With his two 3-under 67s lower than any Fitzpatrick round, the No. I may come to regret a sombre wind-influenced spell during Saturday’s penultimate round which saw him throw five shots on a four-hole course.

“This week I scored some of the worst hits I’ve had in my career, and I’ve hit some of the best, so it’s been kind of a roller coaster weekend,” Scheffler told reporters.

“Tip of the hat to Fitzy. He played really well in golf and he definitely deserved to win this event.”

Hideki Matsuyama scored a very high 65, best of the event, finishing fourth with 3 under, with Collin Morikawa and Rory McIlroy in fifth place, one shot behind.

Scheffler plays his shot from the 16th tee.

One last day of madness

With the pairs’ tee-off times staggered in ascending order in the leaderboard, a glittering start by Scheffler saw the No. 1 open with back-to-back birdies to equalize the leading duo moments before they begin.

Two holes later, the 25-year-old had already become the all-time leader at 5 under with yet another birdie in the fourth, though Fitzpatrick immediately responded with a birdie of his own to keep up.

Scheffler’s rising start provided a stark contrast to that of Zalatoris who, after managing to reach par at the opening hole, shot two consecutive bogeys to slide down the rankings.

Yet Zalatoris’ response was as emphatic as his initial drop. After tying twice to stabilize the ship, the American shot four birds in the next six holes to hunt down Scheffler and Fitzpatrick.

The frustrated player goes into tirade after having to play an awkward drain shot at the US Open

Surprisingly, despite all the ebbs and flows of a pulsating final round, after 13 holes the picture actually resembled earlier in the day, with co-leaders Fitzpatrick and Zalatoris leading Scheffler.

The trio would have been flabbergasted had it not been for some heroics at 13 Fitzpatrick. Forty feet from the hole, the Brit blew up a gorgeous downhill putt to birdie level, celebrating the monstrous effort with a roar and punch pump.

The only difference from the night standings was that Scheffler was now down by one shot instead of two. After making it to the corner with five pars and four birdies, his back nine started at a snail’s pace with back-to-back bogeys leaving him 4 under overall.

Final assembly

Then, a seismic shift. Bogeying 16th, Zalatoris could only watch as Fitzpatrick fired a superb birdie putt to open a two-shot lead that lasted a few minutes, while Scheffler birded 17th to overtake his compatriot in second place.

Just missing a repeat of the feat to equalize the lead on 18th, Scheffler’s closing par put pressure on Fitzpatrick, lining up his putt on the penultimate hole.

But as if enjoying a casual ride with friends, the Englishman smiled and laughed after tapping home before taking his one-shot lead to the final tee.

In a final rehearsal of a gripping final day, Fitzpatrick looked to be in trouble after his tee shot found the bunker, but the Englishman responded with an incredible approach shot from the sand to find the green.

Zalatoris responded with a superb approach to make sure the major would go on the final blow, but after Fitzpatrick set for par, he was unable to summon the bird he needed to force a playoff.

A respectful Fitzpatrick restrained as he waited for his opponent to finish, before Zalatoris knocked home to trigger scenes of unbridled glee – and plenty of tears – between the Englishman and his team.