At U.S. Open, Matt Fitzpatrick’s First PGA Tour Win Comes at a Major

This year’s U.S. Open began as the setting for an unprecedented showdown between golfers who had remained loyal to the established PGA Tour and a breakaway pack of ex-colleagues who recently joined the new, rebel Saudi-backed LIV Golf series.

But the anticipated confrontation at the Country Club outside Boston fizzled in the first round on Thursday when golfers from both camps got along without friction.

The LIV Golf-aligned players also faded from contention early. By Sunday, the ongoing split in men’s professional golf was hardly settled, but it was overshadowed by a riveting final-round shootout among three of the sport’s best young players: Matt Fitzpatrick, 27, of England, and the 25-year-old Americans Will Zalatoris and Scottie Scheffler.

In the end, Fitzpatrick, who won the U.S. Amateur at the Country Club nine years ago, survived the crucible, claiming his first win at a major golf championship and on the PGA Tour with a fourth-round 68 that made him six under par for the tournament.

Fitzpatrick earned $3.15 million for the victory. Zalatoris and Scheffler finished one stroke back.

The pivotal moment, as is common at major championships, arrived as Fitzpatrick stood on the final tee of the 72-hole, four-day tournament while leading by one stroke.

Known for his meticulous precision — he has for many years charted the finite details and the outcome of every shot he hits in competition — Fitzpatrick had missed only two fairways to that point in his round.

But his 3-wood on the 444-yard, par-4 18th hole was ripped left and landed in the center of a yawning bunker just off the fairway. His ball was 156 yards from the hole, which was positioned on a plateaued green protected in the front by a cavernous bunker that has ruined many a golfer’s round for decades.

As Fitzpatrick later said, he had been struggling to hit competent shots out of fairway bunkers all year. “It’s the one place I didn’t want to be — No. 1 on that list,” Fitzpatrick said.

But Fitzpatrick, who tied for fifth at last month’s P.G.A. Championship and tied for 14th at this year’s Masters Tournament, has a wealth of elite golf experience. 

Moreover, he felt comfortable all week since he had only happy memories of competing at the Country Club because of his 2013 victory in the U.S. Amateur.