BROOKLINE, Mass. — Matt Fitzpatrick of England is a champion again at The Country Club, this time with the grandest of trophies in golf.
A U.S. Amateur champion in 2013. The U.S. Open champion Sunday.
In a three-way battle at Brookline that came down to the wire, Fitzpatrick seized control with a great break and an even better shot on the 15th hole for a two-shot swing. He was just as clutch from a fairway bunker on the 18th that set up par for a 2-under 68.
Victory was not secure until Will Zalatoris, who showed amazing fight back from every mistake, dropped to his knees when his 15-foot birdie putt on the 18th just slid by the left side of the cup. Zalatoris, who closed with a 69, was a runner-up in the second straight major.
Masters champion Scottie Scheffler never recovered from back-to-back bogeys to start the back nine that cost him the lead. He had a 25-foot birdie chance on the 18th that just missed and left him 1 shot behind with a 67.
Along with the $3.15 million in prize money, Fitzpatrick had that gold Jack Nicklaus medal draped around his neck, which was only fitting.
Fitzpatrick is the 13th man to win both the U.S. Amateur and the U.S. Open in his career, and the second to win both on the same course, joining Nicklaus, who turned the trick at Pebble Beach. Juli Inkster won the U.S. Women’s Amateur and U.S. Women’s Open at Prairie Dunes.
Fitzpatrick, who briefly played at Northwestern before turning pro, won for the eighth time worldwide, and this was his first in America — at least at a tournament everyone knows about. He won the member-member at The Bear’s Club in Florida at the start of the year, the course Nicklaus built.
“He gave me a bit of abuse at the start of the year. He said, ‘Finally. Congratulations for winning in the States,'” Fitzpatrick said.
And then slightly lifting the trophy, Fitzpatrick sent a fun message to Nicklaus: “Jack, I won a second time.”
Fitzpatrick became the first player since Graeme McDowell in 2010 to earn his first PGA Tour win at the U.S. Open.
It took a good break, a signature shot and some guts at the end.
Fitzpatrick and Zalatoris were tied going to the 15th when the Englishman hit his tee shot so far right that it went into the gallery and found a decent lie on grass that was dead and trampled. Zalatoris missed by only a few yards and was buried in deep grass.
Fitzpatrick hit 5-iron from 220 yards to 18 feet below the hole. Zalatoris went into the front bunker, blasted out to 25 feet and made bogey. Fitzpatrick took a 2-shot lead when his birdie putt went into the cup with such perfect pace it didn’t even touch the pin he leaves in the cup.
Zalatoris again bounced back, taking on a tough pin at the par-3 16th to 7 feet for birdie to cut the lead to a shot. Both missed 12-foot birdie chances on the 17th, and then Fitzpatrick missed a fairway at the wrong time, pulling it left into a bunker with a steep patch of rough right in front of him.
It looked like a playoff was eminent — the previous three U.S. Opens at Brookline were all decided by a playoff — and then Fitzpatrick fearlessly hit a fade with a 9-iron that carried the gaping bunker in front of the green and settled 18 feet away.