Matt Fitzpatrick has joined the Jack Nicklaus history books after edging out Will Zalatoris and Scottie Scheffler to triumph at the U.S. Open at The Country Club on Sunday for his first-ever major win.
Englishman Fitzpatrick, who won the U.S Amateur at the same course in 2013, carded a two-under-par 68 in his final round at The Country Club in Massachusetts to edge out playing partner Zalatoris and Scheffler by one shot, finishing on six-under for the tournament.
Zalatoris, who lost the US PGA Championship in a playoff to Justin Thomas last month, bogeyed the second and third holes but roared back with three birdies before the turn, while Fitzpatrick was two-under through his first nine holes.
The Englishman opened his back nine with back-to-back bogeys, which paved the way for Zalatoris to open up a two-shot lead at the summit of the leaderboard after the 11th hole.
They were level pegging again after the 13th, though, largely in part to a stunning long birdie putt from Fitzpatrick.
And 27-year-old Fitzpatrick moved two clear on the 15th thanks to a birdie after Zalatoris could only manage a bogey.
The lead was reduced to one going into the final hole, and despite a poor tee shot that saw him find the bunker, Fitzpatrick held his nerve, playing a sublime shot out of the sand to set him up with two putts to seal his maiden major success.
And that came when, after Fitzpatrick sunk his putt for par, Zalatoris edged his effort just wide.
Zalatoris shared second with world number one Scheffler, while Hideki Matsuyama produced the round of the week – the 30-year-old from Japan hitting a bogey-free 65 to conclude his tournament on three-under for a fourth-place finish.
Collin Morikawa was left to rue a dismal 77 on Saturday, the two-time major champion bouncing back in style from that with a four-under-par 66 to finish tied fifth with Rory McIlroy, who had an up and down Sunday, and Adam Hadwin on two-under for the tournament.
Further down the leaderboard, US PGA Championship winner Thomas carded a four-over par 74 to finish the tournament on seven over par – the same as three-time major winner Jordan Spieth.
Shot of the day
While his shot out of the bunker on 18 will go down in history, an earlier Fitzpatrick effort arguably set the stage for his victory.
It came on the 13th, when he restored parity with Zalatoris, who had opened up a two-shot lead just two holes earlier, with a magnificent putt. Fitzpatrick let out a huge roar when his birdie putt from well over 30 yards dropped in.
Player of the day – Matt Fitzpatrick
Matsuyama’s effort should not be discarded, as he became the first player with a final round bogey-free 65 or lower at U.S. Open since Adam Scott in 2015, yet the day belonged to Fitzpatrick.
The Yorkshireman is the first player to earn his first PGA Tour title in a major since Danny Willett at the 2016 Masters, while he is the 13th player to win both the U.S. Amateur and the U.S. Open overall.
Fitzpatrick: “No words… it’s what you grow up dreaming of. It’s something I’ve worked so hard for, for such a long time. There was a big monkey on my back trying to win over here [in the United States], to do it as a major for my first win, there’s nothing better.”
McIlroy: “Another top five in a major. I guess doesn’t really mean anything. Yeah, the game’s there. The game’s there. I’ve got one more start next week in Hartford before I go to the Open Championship.”
A little birdie told me…
Fitzpatrick has now emulated the great Jack Nicklaus, becoming just the second player to win the U.S. Open at the same course where he won the U.S. Amateur. While Fitzpatrick did it at Brookline, Nicklaus achieved the feat at Pebble Beach.