Whenever you share a golf honors list with Jack Nicklaus and you alone, you know that you have done something special.
The Golden Bear was the only golfer to have won the US Amateur tournament and then followed that up with a win at the US Open Championship, at the same golf course.
Well, now you can add another name to a list that now comprises of two golfers: England’s Matthew Fitzpatrick.
Nicklaus achieved his rare double by winning the US Amateur at Pebble Beach in 1961 and then followed that with a win at the same venue in the 1972 US Open (his third of four US Open victories).
Fitzpatrick completed his pair of wins at Brookline Country Club yesterday, adding to the US Amateur Championship he won on the same course back in 2013.
However, it could have been so very different as one of the best final rounds in US Open history unfolded on Sunday with three men battling it out for the title.
It was a glorious end to a difficult week in the world of golf, after the controversy over the start of the LIV Golf Tour last weekend.
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Final Round Early Back And Forth Sees Three Leaders And A New Clubhouse Score Set
Heading into the final round, Will Zalatoris and Matthew Fitzpatrick shared the lead in the
tournament at -4 under par. They were one shot ahead of last year’s winner, Jon Rahm, who in turn was one ahead of a trio of players, Keegan Bradley, Adam Hadwin and World Number One and Masters Champion, Scottie Scheffler.
Tucked in behind those six players were the only other three players under par, Joel Dahmen, Sam Burns and last week’s winner at the RBC Canadian Open, Rory McIlroy.
In the early part of the final round, Scottie Scheffler’s fast start with four birdies in the opening six holes, saw him go into the lead. Soon Matt Fitzpatrick joined him as Zalatoris drifted off the pace.
However, the American star roared back and as Scheffler and Fitzpatrick began to drop shots, Zalatoris clawed back the holes and then took the lead around the turn, at one point leading by two shots.
By now, 2021 Masters Champion Hideki Matsuyama’s fantastic final round 65 had set a new clubhouse score of -3 under for the leaders to try and better.
The chasing pack began to drift away and by the final six holes, it seemed likely to be a race between Zalatoris, Fitzpatrick and Scheffler for the title.
Drama Down The Stretch
The drama started on the 13th, where Fitzpatrick’s birdie drew him level with Zalatoris, one
ahead of Scheffler.
Then on the 15th, there was a huge swing. Fitzpatrick’s wayward tee shot landed where the spectators had trampled down the rough, giving the Englishman a huge slice of fortune.
Zalatoris only just missed the fairway with his drive, but his ball sunk deep into the US Open rough leaving him a much more difficult second shot.
The Englishman took advantage of his luck hitting his second shot to within 12 feet and sinking the putt for a birdie, while Zalatoris could only bogey the hole, for a two shot swing.
However, Fitzpatrick was only two clear for a matter of seconds as up ahead, Scheffler birdied the 16th to move to five-under, one behind Fitzpatrick and one ahead of Zalatoris.
Back came Zalatoris though on the 17th hole, hitting an incredible iron shot close to the pin and sinking the putt for a birdie, to move himself one behind Fitzpatrick, level with Scheffler.
Up ahead Scheffler could not birdie the last but his clubhouse score of -5 under set the new mark with just Zalatoris and Fitzpatrick left to play the final hole.
Final Hole Nerves
If Fitzpatrick had a break from the golfing gods at the 15th, they had deserted him by the
18th as his nervy tee shot landed in a fairway bunker. Zalatoris had already found the fairway and was in prime position for his approach.
However, from the sand Fitzpatrick played an incredible shot, landing the ball around 20 feet from the hole, fading it around 30 yards to find the green.
It will be the iconic shot of this US Open tournament, reminiscent of Sandy Lyle’s bunker shot at the last when he won his Masters title in 1988.
Zalatoris responded in gritty fashion, spinning his ball back to inside Fitzpatrick’s on the green to ensure that the Englishman would putt first.
Fitzpatrick’s putt missed the hole, but he tapped home for a par to set the score at -6 and Zalatoris knew he had to hole his putt to force a playoff.
He gave the ball a good run at the hole, but at the last, it drifted off slightly and missed the hole. Zalatoris slumped to the ground, going so close at a Major once again, while Fitzpatrick and his caddy and family celebrated the Englishman’s victory.
All Eyes Now Move To St Andrews For The 150th Open Championship
Barely had Fitzpatrick received the famous trophy, and all eyes were now switching to the final Major of the year, the British Open Championship, which will celebrate its 150th birthday at the home of golf, St. Andrews in mid-July.
After his win, Fitzpatrick’s price shortened to 22/1 to win The Open in his home country, with tied runner up players Will Zalatoris a 25/1 chance and Scottie Scheffler a shorter priced option at 14/1.
PointsBet Sportsbook now has Jon Rahm and Rory McIlroy as the 11/1 co-favorites for The Open ahead of Morikawa and Scheffler, with a quartet of American golfers at 16/1 (Brooks Koepka, Dustin Johnson, Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas).
It is going to be interesting to see how the different players prepare for the special test that is St Andrews and seaside links golf and just how many American players will head over to Europe early to try and get themselves attuned to the unique tests of the British Open.
And the newest US Open winner will be one of them hoping to raise his game for the final Major of the season.