ORLANDO, Fla. – Matt Fitzpatrick had plenty of reason to smile after the opening round of the Arnold Palmer Invitational.
Yes, a bogey-free 67 and a share of the lead at Bay Hill was a welcome achievement. But as Fitzpatrick was signing his scorecard, Northwestern’s basketball team closed out its first-ever win in the NCAA tournament, defeating Vanderbilt.
Fitzpatrick attended Northwestern for a semester before turning pro, and his girlfriend is still enrolled. He was pleased once the score went final as he stood outside the scoring trailer wearing the school’s traditional colors of purple and white.
“Had to script it, obviously,” Fitzpatrick said. “Got to show some support. It was a big day for them.”
Fitzpatrick eschewed basketball updates during his round and instead opted to focus on the task at hand. That worked out well, as the Englishman carded the only bogey-free score from the opening round and shares the lead alongside Emiliano Grillo.
Fitzpatrick is only 22 years old, but he’s making his third career start at Bay Hill this week. In addition to preparing for the Masters, where he finished T-7 last year, Fitzpatrick knows a big result this week could go a long way toward his goal of earning special temporary membership on the PGA Tour and ultimately playing more golf on this side of the Atlantic.
“Certainly in the long run, I would love to play more over here as well as keep my place in Europe,” he said. “It’s something I need to sort of figure out, hopefully. If I get an opportunity, I’ll plan it properly.”