Matt Fitzpatrick wins U.S. Open on the same course as his 2013 amateur champion

BROOKLYN, Mass. — With the U.S. Open playoffs looming on Sunday, like at a country club, Matt Fitzpatrick surveyed himself from the bunker on the left side of the 18th fairway. one shot.

He leads Will Zalatoris and Masters champion Scotty Scheffler by one stroke. In front of him was a large patch of rough turf, a large bunker protecting the green and a flag 156 yards away. No less than a U.S. Open title.

On a clutch-filled back nine, Fitzpatrick had the biggest crunch of all.

“It’s one of the best balls I’ve ever played,” he said.

Fitzpatrick’s 9-iron hit from the steep edge — what he called a “squeeze gradient” — moved 18 feet out of the front bunker for a 2-under 68 that gave the British Man became a Grand Slam champion. His first professional victory in the United States.

He won the U.S. Amateur at Brookline in 2013, making him the second person to win both the U.S. Amateur and the U.S. Open on the same course. Jack Nicklaus, the gold medalist with the medal’s name hanging around his neck, turned things around at Pebble Beach. Juli Inkster won the U.S. Women’s Amateur and U.S. Women’s Open at Prairie Dunes.

“It feels out of this world,” Fitzpatrick said. “It’s such a cliché, but it’s something you dream of as a kid. Yes, to make it happen, I can retire a happy man tomorrow.”

Zara Torres excelled in a tight fight against Brookline, making a 15-foot birdie to force them into the playoffs. He fell to his knees as the putter slid over the left edge of the cup. He shot 69 and finished runner-up for the third time in his past seven majors.

Zara Torres and Scheffler, who had a longer birdie putt early on to catch Fitzpatrick, pulled out all the stops. Fitzpatrick was convinced his time was coming, and he seized it.

“Matt’s shot at No. 18 will probably be featured in the rest of U.S. Open history,” Zara Torres said. “I walked past it and I thought it would be reckless. But the fact that he made it and even saw the birdie was unbelievable.

“So dismissive of him. Obviously, he played well all week and had a solid round today.”

The feeling of celebration is familiar. Fitzpatrick shared a tearful hug with his parents and younger brother Alex, who caddies for him in the amateurs. He lives in the same family.

The payoff was $3.15 million and a title — a Grand Slam title — that money can’t buy.

The first call came from four-time U.S. Open champion Nicklaus. As it turns out, Fitzpatrick earned a membership to the Bears Club — the course Nicklaus built in south Florida — and the Golden Bears’ words that day weren’t forgotten.

“He gave me some abuse at the beginning of the year. He said, ‘Finally. Congrats on winning in America,'” Fitzpatrick said. Then raising the trophy slightly, Fitzpatrick sent Nicklaus an amusing message: “Jack, I won the second time around.”

It needs a good rest, an iconic shot and some guts at the end.

Fitzpatrick and Zara Torres tied on the 15th when the Briton’s tee shot so far to the right that it went into the gallery, finding a nice spot on the already dead and trampled grass . Zalatoris came just a few yards short of being hit and was buried in the deep grass.

“I don’t think we had a break all year, just didn’t lie, just didn’t bounce. This time I got there and the ball was perfectly seated,” Fitzpatrick said. “It’s one of the best shots I’ve played all day.”

He blistered from 220 yards to 18 feet below the hole with a 5-iron. Zara Torres went into the front bunker and fired 25 feet for a bogey. When his birdie putt entered the cup with such perfect speed, Fitzpatrick took a two-shot lead without even touching the flagstick he had left in the cup.

“It’s been awesome to do that and take advantage of my time off,” Fitzpatrick said.

Zara Torres bounced back again, making birdie at 7 feet on the par-3 16th to cut the lead to one shot. Both missed 12-foot birdies on the 17th, then Fitzpatrick missed the fairway at the wrong time. It looked like the playoffs mattered — three previous U.S. Opens at Brookline were decided by the playoffs — until the blow of his life.

Fitzpatrick finished at 6-under 274. He became the first Briton to win the U.S. Open since Justin Rose in 2013, and he felt his time was coming.

He meticulously charts his shots and records all of them to determine what needs to be done. Over the past two years, he has emphasized the speed of his swing, giving him the length and conviction to compete with anyone.

That didn’t make Sunday any easier, with a three-man match from the start, with Jon Rahm and Rory McIlroy going backwards and never rejoining the game.

Fitzpatrick and Zara Torres, who shared a 54-hole lead, each had a two-shot lead on one point.

Zara Torres, who lost to Justin Thomas in the PGA Championship playoffs last month, recovered from two early bogeys. They were tied when Zara Torres made an 18-foot birdie putt on the short par 3 11th, and Fitzpatrick three-putted for bogey on the same range.

The 25-year-old from Dallas suddenly had a two-shot lead. He also couldn’t keep the ball on the fairway, which cost him the ball on the 12th hole. Then came another big turning point when Fitzpatrick made a 50-foot birdie putt on the 13th green. Zara Torres did a great job with a 15-foot par and they headed for a tight end.

Hideki Matsuyama had a low 65 this week, but he ended up with a 3-under 277, which was never good enough. McIlroy had a 69, four behind Collin Morikawa (66) in the group stage.

Fitzpatrick couldn’t stop laughing as he held up the silver trophy, big and silvery, as shiny as the American Amateur Awards, only more meaningful. There was another poignant moment at the end. His caddie, Billy Foster, one of the longest-serving and most popular loopers in Europe, took the flag off the 18th pole. That’s his trophy.

“Billy said for a while, keep doing what you’re doing and the opportunity will come,” Fitzpatrick said. “Indeed, I accept it.”

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