Patience is Key for Matt Fitzpatrick at Oak Hill
The biggest thing Matt Fitzpatrick learned after winning a major championship last year is that, well, he can actually do it.
And confidence is a beautiful thing.
Fitzpatrick, who captured the U.S. Open at The Country Club in Brookline (Mass.) by one shot over Will Zalatoris and Scottie Scheffler, comes into the PGA Championship with both confidence and good play on his side.
“I think just obviously that week my game was the best it’s ever been,” said Fitzpatrick of his U.S. Open triumph. “Statistically I didn’t even putt that well that week, so it’s kind of a case of it I can play the same way again and putt as well as I know I can, then there’s another level that I can add to my performance. That’s kind of a big thing […] if I can do that, I know I can contend and win.”
Fitzpatrick has three top-10 finishes so far this season including a playoff victory over Jordan Spieth at the RBC Heritage last month. He also tied for 10th at the Masters.
His expectations that week, he said, were tempered due to some injury troubles earlier in the season. He’s hoping to keep those expectations the same this week, despite coming in with a few more boxes checked on the resume.
“I just think the important thing that I have found this year is, as cliche as it is, you are never as far away as you think, and you are also never as far away from playing bad again than you think,” Fitzpatrick said. “I think that was the big thing […] I was having not a great time at the start of the year and started getting really down on myself and disappointed when all I needed to do on paper was just keep doing what I was doing, work hard, try and get back to the level I was.
“Just trying to do more of that and just trying to stay level. Just being really patient. I think that's what I felt like I did so well at Harbour Town.”
The Englishman was firmly in the mix at last year’s PGA Championship before a 3-over 73 in the final round moved him down to a tie for fifth.
He’ll be the first to admit that playing the kind of golf courses that have hosted the PGA Championship over the last number of years are not the kind of venues an Englishman would be used to competing on. But he’s managed to find some semblance of routine with these courses now, and he’s got a solid approach to what he’ll need to do to win another major this time around.
“I think knowing what you've got to do out here this week, you've just got to play good golf. It's just a brute of a golf course,” Fitzpatrick said. “From the holes that I've seen, there's so many tough, tough golf holes where you have to hit just good shots. I think that's the great thing about it is it's a proper test. You know, you've got to play good golf.
“Whoever does win this week, in my opinion, will thoroughly deserve it.”