Matt Fitzpatrick will have time, eventually, to reflect on what he accomplished at the U.S. Open. But for now, he’s solely focused on a strong finish to an already memorable major season.
The newly crowned U.S. Open champion returns to tournament competition this week at the Genesis Scottish Open. Though he also participated in the JP McManus Pro-Am earlier this week in Ireland, this will mark Fitzpatrick’s first official event since his rousing triumph at The Country Club.
“For me, I just want to get back to the routine and getting back to playing regular golf again,” he told reporters Wednesday at the Renaissance Club, where last year he lost in a playoff to Min Woo Lee. “There’s been a lot going on. I’ve been in the car a lot driving places, and flying as well. It’s just been busy with all sorts of stuff, so I’m looking forward to getting back into regular scheduling.”
Fitzpatrick’s career changed forever at Brookline, where his fairway-bunker shot on the 72nd hole sealed his first major title at age 27. (The USGA, as it custom for the Open winners, has already asked for his 9-iron.) Even if he hasn’t had much time to reflect on the achievement, he said that the breakthrough reassured him that he didn’t have to play perfectly to win – and that his game is good enough to knock off majors. He ranks second on the PGA Tour this season in strokes gained: total, which measures his complete performance against his peers.
“The biggest thing is just it proved to myself that I can do it, that I can win a major, particularly how far my game has come on this year compared to previous years,” he said. “I’ve had the belief in myself that I can do it, and I look at events that I’ve won before where I’ve had the lead, so it’s a position I feel comfortable with. But to do it in a major, obviously, just proved the belief within myself.”
In the days that followed, Fitzpatrick said that he planned to seek out the advice of fellow major champions on how they navigated the altered expectations and increased attention. To this point, he said, he has only had a brief chat with 2016 Masters champion Danny Willett, but Fitzpatrick is taking a few weeks off after The Open at St. Andrews to regroup. Already he is learning the value of time management.
“I’ve got to get used to it, particularly if I want to win more. It’s just part of it,” he said. “It’s just trying to find the balance of everything and make sure that I’ve got enough time to practice and enough time to have off and enough time to give to sponsors and media and all that sort of stuff.
“Hence why I want to speak to other guys that have had success and see what they did that helped them or what hindered them. Just try to use that for my own experience to make sure that whichever route I go down, it’s the route I want for me.”