BROOKLINE, Mass. – Matt Fitzpatrick’s younger brother, Alex, has done an admirable job toting the bag for six days of this 113th U.S. Amateur, with a 36-hole finale on tap Sunday.
OK, so there was that brief incident in the semifinals.
Fitzpatrick used his 58-degree wedge to blast out of a bunker short of the first green, and after getting up-and-down for par, his group headed on to the par-3 second.
A few minutes later, after Fitzpatrick surveyed his lie in the thick rough behind No. 2 green and determined that he needed his lob wedge, he discovered that the club was missing. It had been left behind.
“Maybe I said something that I probably shouldn’t to him,” Fitzpatrick said, smiling. “It was a good job I got up-and-down, otherwise maybe I would have been a bit more angry.”
It turned out to be a critical, early-round find. Fitzpatrick hit only five greens Saturday but still defeated Corey Conners, 2 and 1, to reach the finals here at The Country Club.
The semifinal victory earned Fitzpatrick, the low amateur at the 2013 British Open, a spot in next year’s Masters and U.S. Open.
“Augusta is just sort of, as everyone says, golf heaven,” he said. “It’s just virtually impossible to get a game there. So this is my best opportunity.”
But he’s already said that he won’t have Alex, 14, on the bag that week, a decision that had nothing to do with Saturday’s isolated incident, of course.
“I’ve just sent a text to my coach and he sat next to the caddie that I had at the Open (Lorne Duncan), and I think he’s more than happy to come back out of retirement for me,” Fitzpatrick said.
The news that he’ll be replaced next April didn’t upset Alex.
“It’s hilly, isn’t it?” he asked a reporter.
When told that, yes, Augusta is very hilly, much more so than it appears on television, he smiled and said, “Good. I don’t want to caddie there.”