At the US Open, Matt Fitzpatrick wins his first major championship

BROOKLINE, Mass. This year’s US Open began as the setting for an unprecedented showdown between golfers who had remained loyal to the established PGA Tour and a breakaway package of ex-colleagues who recently joined the new, rebellious, Saudi-backed LIFE Golf series. . But the anticipated confrontation at the Country Club outside Boston was buzzing in the first round on Thursday as golfers from both camps came together without friction.

The LIV Golf-aligned players also disappeared early from combat.

On Sunday, the ongoing split in professional men’s golf was hardly settled, but it was overshadowed by a riveting final competition among three of the sport’s best young players: Matt Fitzpatrick, 27, from England, and Americans Will Zalatoris, 25, and Scottie Scheffler, 25. .

In the end, Fitzpatrick, who won the American Amateur at Country Club nine years ago, survived the melting pot, claiming his first victory 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 win.

Zalatoris and Scheffler were a blow back.

The crowded fourth round came down to the final two holes with Fitzpatrick leading with a stroke over Zalatoris, his playing partner. He had a two-stroke advantage over Scheffler, who had teed two groups ahead of Fitzpatrick and Zalatoris, leading in the third round.

But Scheffler birdied the 17th hole to get to five under par and tie Zalatoris, who like Fitzpatrick made par on the 17th hole.

It came down to the 444-yard, par-4 18th hole, a signature hole from the Country Club. Zalatoris teased his tee shot into the fairway and struck another shot within 14 feet. Fitzpatrick moved his tee shot to the left into a gaping bunker, but from 156 yards he hit a crisp iron that bordered on the green and stopped 17 feet from the hole.

Fitzpatrick then topped confidently to par. Zalatoris’ birdie putt to tie Fitzpatrick and create an endgame drive less than an inch to the left of the hole.

While Saturday’s third round was played in gusts of wind that made the greens steady and fast – and only produced seven rounds under par – Sunday’s conditions were benign in comparison. Country Club is an intimidating course in all kinds of weather, but the forecast had been for cool temperatures and moderately strong winds that heralded another tough day for the best golfers in the world. Instead, the wind calmed down, and cloud cover ensured a pleasant day in the 60s. Most of all, a storm dumped overnight a quarter of an inch of rain on the club’s small greens, slowing them down and making putting less difficult.

As a result, the field could be more aggressive, especially if a tee shot landed on the fairway. In some cases, however, it could have given golfers false self-confidence, as costly mistakes were still common.

Zalatoris started the day in a draw in the lead with Fitzpatrick at four under par, but faltered early as he three-putted from 67 feet under the second hole to a bogey. Then, on the next hole, he sent his second shot into a greenside bunker, leading to another bogey in a row. But Zalatoris rarely seemed rattling. He stabilized with three pars in a row, and at par-3, 158-yard sixth hole, he drilled his tee shot 2 feet from the flag for a light birdie. Zalatoris’ approach shot to the par-4 seventh green from 164 yards bounced over the green and rolled just an inch back from the hole. His tap-in birdie brought him back to four under par for the round. When Zalatoris lowered a 17-foot birdie putt on the ninth hole, he made the turn at five under par, just one stroke behind Fitzpatrick.

After a steady par on the 10th hole, Zalatoris played it smart and safe on the downhill par-3 11th hole, which played just 108 yards on Sunday (with an eerily difficult position behind the left hole). Zalatoris left his tee shot under the hole and rolled an 18-foot putt into the birdie to move to six under par, giving him the lead in the tournament at the time. But a missed fairway from the 12th tee led to a layup short from the green and ultimately a bogey.

After watching Zalatoris fall back to five under par, Fitzpatrick, who was in second place, attacked as he entered the final round of last month’s PGA Championship. Standing over a 48-foot birdie putt on the 13th hole, he rolled a swaying, left-to-right putt slowly but surely into the hole to tie Zalatoris.

Like everyone else at the top of the rankings on Sunday, Fitzpatrick’s round was bumpy and unpredictable. He started strong with three pars and two birdies in his first five holes. But his tee shot on par-3 sixth hole was way too long and sailed 66 feet past the hole, leading to a bogey. Fitzpatrick collected himself with a comfortable birdie in par-5 eighth place, but like many others on Sunday, he could not maintain the positive momentum. He stumbled on the 10th hole when a longer second stroke was short from the green and led to another bogey. Then the little 11th Fitzpatrick plagued as a 7-foot par putt slipped past the hole for another bogey in a row.

Scheffler looked to take a leading lead in the tournament on Saturday with a sparkling front nine, but then gave it all back with a series of bogeys on the back nine. On Sunday, Scheffler cut up the top nine again with four birdies in his first six holes. Scheffler’s approach strokes to the small, diabolical greens were accurate, and his work on the cunning putt surfaces was excellent as three of his four early birdie putt were converted from the outside 12 feet.

But then Scheffler’s putt stroke left him as he needed three putts to get his ball into the hole from 38 feet on the 10th hole. What’s worse, on the diabolical 11th hole, Scheffler’s parputt rhymed from the 7-foot hole and lipped out for another consecutive three-putt bogey that dropped him to four under par for the tournament. Scheffler, however, remained in the fight with five consecutive pars from the 12th to the 16th hole.

Hideki Matsuyama made one of the best early goals as he shot five under par 65 with five birdies and no bogeys to finish the championship under three under par. Matsuyama only needed 25 putts in his final round.

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