Matthew Fitzpatrick is in a race to leave his Yorkshire home by the weekend to be part of golf’s return on the PGA Tour next month – and he will have his favourite football team to thank if he manages it.
The world No 25 took a test for Covid-19 at Sheffield United on Tuesday and is hopeful that in the next few days he will receive the necessary paperwork to travel to the United States.
Fitzpatrick, 25, played a friendly round at his home course of Hallamshire with his brother Alex, one of England’s top amateurs, yesterday and afterwards said how desperate he was to join a Charles Schwab Challenge field due to include six of the world’s top 10, including No 1 Rory McIlroy.
“I’m lucky that Matt [Roberts, his fitness trainer] has a close relationship with the Blades medical team, because I was able to pay to have it done there,” Fitzpatrick said. “The PGA Tour gave us forms to apply for a special visa and now it’s just a case of waiting to see if I get the green light by Friday. If I do – and the test is negative, of course – I’ll get a flight to Dallas that day. If I am to play at Colonial, the latest I could realistically leave would be Sunday.”
The $7.5 million (£6.1 million) event in Fort Worth begins on June 11, but any pro who does not reside in the US first has to undergo a two-week quarantine in the country. Tommy Fleetwood, Lee Westwood and Francesco Molinari have all turned down the opportunity, knowing that, as things stand, they would also have to fulfil a fortnight of quarantine when returning to the UK.
Yet Fitzpatrick is ready to go west and stay west. “I rent a place in Palm Beach [Florida] and my plan would be probably to remain there until at least August, depending on where the regulations are lifted on both sides of the Atlantic,” he said. “If I don’t make it over in time to play Colonial, then I’ll just keep trying until I can get over there. I like Hilton Head, which hosts the second event [the RBC Heritage] and would love to be there.
“In fact, all those courses at the first three events, including River Highlands [the Travelers Championship venue in Connecticut], suit strategic golfers like myself, so that gives me added incentive. But the way I feel right now, I’d play on a ploughed field as long as there was a bit of competition and the European Tour is not due back until late July.”
Fitzpatrick was in fine form before the game went into coronavirus shutdown on March 12, having finished second in three of his previous 15 events, as well as recording a top 10 at the Arnold Palmer Invitational, his last completed event. This impressive run has carried him into the top eight of the Ryder Cup standings, who will automatically qualify to play for Europe in the match scheduled for September.