Matt Fitzpatrick ready to adapt to his new fame after life-changing US Open win

·4-min read
Matt Fitzpatrick of England holds the trophy after winning the 2022 US Open golf tournament at The Country Club in Brookline, Massachusetts, USA, 19 June 2022. 2022 US Open golf tournament - SHUTTERSTOCK
Matt Fitzpatrick of England holds the trophy after winning the 2022 US Open golf tournament at The Country Club in Brookline, Massachusetts, USA, 19 June 2022. 2022 US Open golf tournament - SHUTTERSTOCK

Matt Fitzpatrick knew that life had changed when he was sitting down to dinner outside a restaurant in downtown Manhattan on Monday night. The new US Open champion – for most of his 27 years someone who could go almost anywhere without being recognised – was with friends at a pavement table when a man walked past not once, but three times.

“The guy actually did a triple take,” Fitzpatrick said, speaking to the British media on a video call from his hotel in New York. “The third time he stopped to say well done. So I appreciate that.”

Since his magnificent triumph at Brookline, that was an unusual moment when the new champion was sitting still. He has undertaken a whirl of engagements in a splurge he describes as “surreal”. And he has done it on a minimum of sleep.

Danny Willett, the last Yorkshireman to win a major, said that after he had lifted the Masters in 2016 he had so much pent-up energy he went out jogging at 3am. Asked whether he had celebrated in a similar way, Fitzpatrick smiled. “I think jogging must have been a code word for Dan. I didn’t go to sleep until probably three, replying to some of the messages that I’ve been sent and just taking it all in.

“Actually, I didn’t really sleep at all. It’s been a whirlwind.”

So much has his life changed with victory, he has been in touch with those who have been this way before.

All eyes are on Fitzpatrick now with anonymity harder to come by - GETTY IMAGES
All eyes are on Fitzpatrick now with anonymity harder to come by - GETTY IMAGES

Like Rory McIlroy, who had waited for him on the 18th green on Sunday to offer congratulations. “I messaged Rory, just saying thank you for sticking around, and mentioned that I might want to have a chat about one or two things,” he said.

“I’ll speak to another couple of players that have been in the same position just to find out what to do. And maybe what not to do. Just try and get some advice.”

One thing Fitzpatrick will not be doing with his new celebrity is cashing in by joining the Saudi-backed breakaway LIV Series. Not least because – particularly now he has won a major – he reckons the existing competitions are the only ones that matter.

“The PGA Tour is not going anywhere. The DP World Tour is not going anywhere. They’ll continue and while they’ve got Tiger Woods’ support and Rory McIlroy’s support and Justin Thomas’ support, there’ll be no issues in my opinion. This is the place to be,” he said.

If nothing else, he adds, the nerve-shredding drama supplied by the last round on Sunday is vindication that the 72-hole format provides far more of a narrative than the foreshortened arrangements of the LIV Series. “It always creates that extra tension,” he said.

“There’s extra pressure and stress, and I think that’s why it’s the best format to decide the best players.” And he knows all about the tension of the format, having emerged triumphant from a particularly trying set of circumstances on the final hole on Sunday, when he was obliged to play  a 161-yard approach from a fairway bunker, delivering the shot of a lifetime which effectively won him the tournament. “It wasn’t the shot I was looking forward to,” he said. “I just felt like I got a little lucky with the lie and I managed to pull it off.”

Fitzpatrick hits the shot of his life from the fairway bunker on the 18th at Brookline - SHUTTERSTOCK
Fitzpatrick hits the shot of his life from the fairway bunker on the 18th at Brookline - SHUTTERSTOCK

In the process, he wrote himself into the history books. Now comes the pleasure of working out one or two celebratory moments before he returns to the fray as one of the favourites at the Open at St Andrews next month. One of his priorities is arranging a trip to Bramall Lane to show off his trophy to his fellow Sheffield United supporters.

“Once the fixtures are out, we’ll have a look at where they can cross over and I’ll be sure to get down there,” he said. Before that, though, there is the small matter of reimbursing his brother Alex, who had travelled up to Boston to support Matt, suggesting afterwards that he was hoping he might get some help with the $150 air fare.

“My parents said they’ll cover that so…” Fitzpatrick said. But surely he now has a bit of cash. “No, no, no,” he smiled. “He’s still living with my parents, so they can cover that.”

When it comes to sibling rivalry, it is clear, it will take a lot more than a US Open win to relax the competition.

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