BROOKLINE, Mass. -- Matt Fitzpatrick is the King of The Country Club.
It was fitting that a historic course known for its dramatic finishes in major tournaments again played host to an exciting conclusion Sunday when the 27-year-old Englishman won the 2022 U.S. Open by a single stroke.
Fitzpatrick led Will Zalatoris by one shot entering the 18th hole. After hitting his tee shot into the bunker to the left of the fairway, Fitzpatrick decided to go all out and executed a perfect approach shot that hit the green.
A calm two-putt secured par. Zalatoris' potential birdie putt just missed, giving Fitzpatrick his first major championship with a score of 6-under par.
The last time Fitzpatrick played at The Country Club in Brookline, he won the 2013 U.S. Amateur tournament. He's one of just two golfers who've won the U.S. Amateur and the U.S. Open on the same course. The other is the legendary Jack Nicklaus, who accomplished the feat at Pebble Beach.
"This week around The Country Club, I've won around here before. I love playing this golf course," Fitzpatrick said. "It suits me so well. It suits my game well. I've been playing well for a while, and I think it all just fell into place that this was the place it was going to happen."
Nicklaus called Fitzpatrick during the trophy presentation to congratulate him. It was a pretty cool moment for the new U.S. Open champion.
"Any time you're sharing a record with Jack Nicklaus, it's unbelievable," Fitzpatrick said. "So for me to have that as well is incredible. He called me up down there just at the presentation to congratulate me. Coming from someone like that, it means the world."
Fitzpatrick said Saturday that his experience from winning on this course in 2013 would help him finish the job on Sunday. He turned out to be right.
"I certainly think it gives me an edge over the others, yeah," Fitzpatrick said after his third round. "I genuinely do believe that. It's a real, obviously, positive moment in my career. It kind of kickstarted me. To come back here and play so well again, it kind of just gives me growing confidence round by round."
He certainly looked like a confident guy throughout the final round, even when adversity hit.
Fitzpatrick faced a crucial moment after the 11th hole. Zalatoris had just birdied the hole to move to 6-under. Fitzpatrick bogeyed to fall two strokes behind. But he didn't bogey another hole. Birdies on the 13th and 15th holes pushed him back to 6-under, which was enough to outlast Zalatoris, whose bogeys on No. 12 and No. 15 proved costly.
Fitzpatrick admitted there was some doubt after the bogey on No. 11, but the confidence remained.
"Yeah, sure, there's a little bit (of doubt). You know, there's seven, eight holes left," Fitzpatrick said. "You've got plenty of time still, but you'd rather be two clear than two behind obviously. I think for me, like I just felt like I could keep hitting the greens and giving myself putts, my putting would take over and I'd make a couple coming in, and fortunately that's what I did. Yeah, it worked out nicely."
The Country Club has a rich history of amazing moments and golfers who've made their name on these grounds. Francis Ouimet's stunning victory in the 1913 U.S. Open and the United States' epic comeback at the 1999 Ryder Cup stand out above the rest.
Fitzpatrick isn't quite in that territory, but he is the only golfer to win multiple major tournaments at this course in its 140-year history. That will make him a legend in Brookline forever.
"I put myself in position after two rounds and then played well yesterday. I just really believed this could be the time," Fitzpatrick said. "Yeah, for whatever reason, because of my success here before, it just felt like this was the time."
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