Matthew Fitzpatrick may look like the valet who parks your car at the restaurant, but he isn’t. Or a kid on his way to a high school math class, but he isn’t. Or someone who says “amazing” four times in 15 seconds – and he is.
What Fitzpatrick, a 19-year-old from Sheffield, England, actually looks like is the U.S. Amateur champion. With his victory over Oliver Goss, who is also in this year’s Masters field, Fitzpatrick became the first Englishman to win the U.S. Amateur since 1911.
Fitzpatrick earned a spot in the Masters with his victory. He’ll play the first two rounds at Augusta National with defending Masters champion Adam Scott.
“It’s just amazing,” Fitzpatrick said. “More amazing than I ever thought. I don’t think there is anything more amazing. It’s just amazing to be here.”
Fitzpatrick was a freshman golfer at Northwestern studying psychology, French, and English literature but left school to play as an amateur full-time and contemplate turning professional. He played last month in the Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill, where he missed the cut, and will play at next week’s RBC Heritage at Harbour Town, too. Provided he maintains his amateur status, Fitzpatrick also can play in the U.S. Open and the British Open.
Leaving school was a fairly simple decision, he said, but turning pro isn’t an easy choice at all. “The decision to leave was that I’ve got such great opportunities this year, I felt like I couldn’t turn them down,” Fitzpatrick said. “That could be once in a lifetime. I felt that it was the right decision for me.”
The British Open will be played in July at Hoylake, where an 11-year-old Fitzpatrick saw Tiger Woods win the Claret Jug in 2006.
Fitzpatrick may need some time to grow a little – he carries only 145 pounds on his slender 5-foot-10 frame. Despite shooting 71-81 at Bay Hill, he says he enjoyed the experience, but may need more time to decide if turning pro is the best move for his career.
“I’ve really had one tournament – doesn’t really tell you whether you’re ready or not to turn pro,” Fitzpatrick said. “But certainly, how players are looked after, how the tournament is itself and how great everything is about it, it does whet your appetite to turn pro. Certainly gets me excited. I’ll see how this year goes. I’ve not really got any plans to turn pro soon.”
So in the immediate future, Fitzpatrick intends to make the most of his “amazing” opportunity to play in the Masters. He isn’t picking himself to win. His goal is modest: simply make the cut.
Maybe at some time in the future, he will be back at the Masters, but whether he plays two rounds or more this week, Fitzpatrick has formulated a plan. “Got to enjoy it while I can,” he said.