Fitzpatrick Hopes Front-Row Seat in 2013 Proves Valuable
August 14, 2018 | Pebble Beach, Calif.
By Dave Shedloski
Alex Fitzpatrick is competing in his first USGA championship this week, the 118th U.S. Amateur, but he already knows more about what it takes to win it than most of the players in the 312-man field.
“I definitely have seen how to get on with it,” said the 19-year-old from Sheffield, England.
Though he was only 14 years old at the time, Fitzpatrick caddied for his older brother, Matthew, in the 2013 U.S. Amateur at The Country Club in Brookline, Mass., and the two got to share a special week as Matthew won the championship, capped by a 4-and-3 victory over Oliver Goss of Australia in the final.
Now it’s Alex’s turn to go for the title, and he at least put himself in position to qualify for match play with an opening 1-over 72 at Pebble Beach Golf Links. Fitzpatrick had three bogeys against two birdies, the last of which came on a chip-in at the difficult par-4 ninth hole to end his day.
“It was kind of a miraculous flop shot that was going 10 feet past the hole, at least, and it went in. Big sigh of relief,” Fitzpatrick said. “It would have been a bogey for sure, I think, if it didn’t go in. Thick rough, and on the downhill slope… It was great way to finish when it could have been bad.”
Fitzpatrick, who will enroll at Wake Forest University later this month, remembers quite a bit about his brother’s performance at The Country Club. And he remembers how much he helped him on the way to victory. He sheepishly admits that it wasn’t much.
“I just carried the bag. I didn’t know what I was doing,” he said. “Matt did all the work, honestly. But hopefully I can follow up on that. We’ll see.”
Because his brother is competing in this week’s Wyndham Championship on the PGA Tour – he is No. 43 in the Official World Golf Ranking – Alex said he didn’t ask for any advice in preparation for the championship. “He just said good luck, really. He has his own event this week, so he’s just leaving me to my own stuff.”
Last week, the younger Fitzpatrick went home to England and played golf with friends. He also saw his instructors, Pete Cowen and Nick Huby, to fine-tune his game.
It goes without saying that reaching the match-play stage is the first objective. “Anything can happen from there, and I’ve seen that,” he said with a smile. “It’s anyone’s game at that point.”
Interestingly, Fitzpatrick’s outlook on that week five years ago has changed. He has come to appreciate what his brother accomplished now that he is in his shoes and swinging the clubs instead of just toting them along.
“Daft as it sounds, it didn’t seem as important then as it does now,” Fitzpatrick said, “and I’ve come to realize what an amazing achievement it was.”
One he’d like to repeat.
Dave Shedloski is an Ohio-based freelance writer who frequently contributes to USGA digital channels.