Matthew Fitzpatrick won his first major title and repeated history on Sunday at the 122nd U.S. Open. Here's how Fitzpatrick prevailed – again – at The Country Club in Brookline, Massachusetts.
Leaderboard: Matthew Fitzpatrick (-6), Will Zalatoris (-5), Scottie Scheffler (-5), Hideki Matsuyama (-3), Collin Morikawa (-2), Rory McIlroy (-2)
What it means: Fitzpatrick is the first Englishman to win the U.S. Open since Justin Rose won at Merion in 2013. Did you know that Fitzpatrick also won the U.S. Amateur at The Country Club in ’13? That might not have been mentioned this past week. Prior to Rose, the last Englishman to win this major was Tony Jacklin in 1970, and prior to him was Cyril Walker in 1924.
So, this is quite the accomplishment for the 27-year-old. After a career of not factoring in majors – one top-10 in his first 27 starts – a longer, stronger Fitzpatrick has factored in the last two championships. After wilting to a Sunday 73 at the PGA – and tying for fifth – he learned and atoned to become the 13th man to win the U.S. Am and U.S. Open, and just the second (Jack Nicklaus, Pebble Beach) to win both at the same venue.
How it happened: Fitzpatrick began the final round tied at the top with Zalatoris. There were seven others within three shots, including four major winners – the defending U.S. Open and reigning Masters champs among them. For the most part, it was a three-person battle: Fitzpatrick, Zalatoris and Scheffler, who birdied four of his first six holes on Sunday.
Scheffler, however, hit a lull and played Nos. 7-16 in 2 over par. And as it should be, it was over those final few holes where the championship was determined. Fitzpatrick and Zalatoris were tied entering the par-4 15th, with Scheffler, two groups ahead, one back. While both Fitzpatrick and Zalatoris missed the fairway at No. 15, the Englishman’s more errant shot landed in a much better lie. He was able to advance his ball onto the green while Zalatoris lashed out into a greenside bunker. After Zalatoris failed to save par, Fitzpatrick rolled in a 19-footer for birdie.
Fitzpatrick’s two-stroke lead was short-lived. Scheffler immediately birdied the 17th and Zalatoris rebounded with a birdie at No. 16. Scheffler wasn’t able to birdie 18, though, and posted 5 under. Leaving the stage for the final twosome.
After Zalatoris bombed his drive 312 yards down the fairway, Fitzpatrick pulled his into a left fairway bunker. Fortunately, he was able to avoid the rough peninsula portion in the middle of the sandy area, and played a magnificent approach shot from 161 yards to 18 feet. Zalatoris hit his approach shot to 14 feet, leaving Fitzpatrick with a birdie putt to clinch it. He missed, putting the pressure on Zalatoris to force a playoff. He missed as well.
Shot of the day: Just take a look at that bunker shot on the 72nd hole by Fitzpatrick:
Round of the day: Matsuyama’s 5-under 65. Beginning the day six off the lead, Matsuyama nearly replicated what Justin Thomas did at the PGA Championship. He made five birdies and no bogeys on Sunday to set the clubhouse mark at 3 under. One more birdie might have put a scare in the final groups, but Matsuyama’s finish was his best in a major since the winning the ’21 Masters; it’s also just his second top 10 in a major over the last five years.
Biggest disappointment(s): Jon Rahm and McIlroy. Rahm was leading by one shot on the 18th hole Saturday. He made double bogey, dropped one back, and never fully recovered. The defending champion made two bogeys and no birdies over his opening nine Sunday. He was five back at the turn and shot 4-over 74 to tie for 12th.
McIlroy, meanwhile, made three birdies on the front nine. He also made three bogeys. The back-and-forth kept him at 1 under par, but saw him lose ground on the leaders. Though he ultimately finished with a 1-under 69, McIlroy was never in serious contention and his major drought, which reaches to 2014, continues.