Rory McIlroy tells Matt Fitzpatrick his ‘hard work paid off’ after US Open victory delivers first major

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Rory McIlroy tells Matt Fitzpatrick his ‘hard work paid off’ after US Open victory delivers first major
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Rory McIlroy told Matt Fitzpatrick his hard work had paid off as the two embraced on the 18th green at Brookline following Fitzpatrick's US Open triumph.

Fitzpatrick clinched his first major title at the same Massachusetts course where he won the US Amateur title in 2013. The 27-year-old Englishman even stayed with the same family in Boston as history rhymed nine years on.

Fitzpatrick held off the challenge of Americans Will Zalatoris and world No1 Scottie Scheffler to win by a shot, while two of the big favourites at the start of the day – Jon Rahm and McIlroy – faded away.

McIlroy dusted off his own disappointment to be one of the first to congratulate his friend Fitzpatrick on joining him as a major winner.

"All that hard work paid off," McIlroy said as he hugged Fitzpatrick, who has hugely improved his game over the past 18 months, adding significant length to his driving distance and mastering a cross-handed chipping grip.

"I'm so happy for you," McIlroy added, before hugging Fitzpatrick's brother Alex, who was on Matt's bag as caddie when he won the Amateur title and has recently turned professional himself.

"The feeling's out of this world," Fitzpatrick told reporters. "It is so cliche, but it's stuff you dream of as a kid. To achieve it, I can retire a happy man tomorrow. I had the big monkey on my back of not winning over here, it's all everybody talked about and to do it in a major, there's nothing better."

Fitzpatrick's victory means he joins 18-time major winner Jack Nicklaus as the only players to have won the US Amateur and US Open on the same course. Nicklaus achieved the feat at Pebble Beach in 1961 and 1972, while Fitzpatrick won the US Amateur at Brookline in 2013 with his brother Alex on the bag.

"Any time you're sharing a record with Jack Nicklaus, it's unbelievable," Fitzpatrick added. "So for me to have that as well is incredible. He called me up at the presentation to congratulate me. Coming from someone like that, it means the world."

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