The Country Club of Brookline (Massachusetts), one of the five clubs that founded the American Golfers Association (USGA) in 1895, greeted a new major winner, the 27-year-old Englishman Matt Fitzpatrick, whom he had crowned in 2013 as the winner of the USAmateur, an undeniable pedigree. A double, which in the same field, only Jack Nicklaus had achieved, a beautiful coincidence.
His success had a tone, in addition to vindication. Extended European dominance after Jon Rahm’s victory last year. It subtracts the old wounds that this course had left on the European troops in that Ryder Cup where the American players invaded the green after Justin Leonard’s putt, without José María Olazbal having finished playing.
And crowned, finally, his caddy, Billy Foster. After 40 years with the bag in tow, assistant to stars like Ballesteros, Westwood, Tiger Woods, he found glory with the boy from Sheffield. Foster, working for Darren Clarke, was one of those who bowed his head that September 1999 before the team of unspeakable nikis. Now he came out happy, bursting into tears when Matt Zalatoris’ putt, which could force a playoff, missed.
The tournament always moved in three poles: the one of the two mentioned and Scottie Scheffler’s. The world number 1 started the day at full speed. Birdie and birdie. Three after four holes and four after six. He was unleashed. He was looking for his fifth victory of the season, the second big after the Masters. No wind and greens not as hard as expected in a USOpen. It seemed unstoppable.
The start coincided with Zalatoris’s weakness. He is the golfer who has best played the majors in the last two years. In the last eight majors he has added three second places (Masters 2021 and PGA 2022, too), two sixths and one eighth. Although he is a player with no wins in tournaments qualifying for the PGATour, he had undoubted experience.
The foreigner was the Englishman Fitzpatrick, the golfer who putts without removing the flag. He is surely the best putter in Europe – his 15-meter downhill putt on 13 was anthology – and he began to take advantage of what he could get. When Scheffler linked two bogeys in a row (holes 10 and 11) and began to leave them short, that’s where the Englishman emerged to take the lead.
It was an ephemeral estrangement because he punctured on the same holes as Scheffler, which gave some life to the player of the year and to Zalatoris, who resisted very well even with Fitzpatrick with four holes to go.
On the 15th, the hall of the demanding end of the Country Club, back to Zalatoris who played the pit as his initial letter, from side to side. Fitzpatrick, who was in the main event with him, instead holed a fifteen-foot downhill putt and found himself two ahead of Wil with three holes to go and one ahead of Scheffler, who had reacted on the easy 17th hole.
Zalatoris still made one last charge on the par 3 (hole 16) with an iron that stopped two meters from the flag, while the Englishman, who raised the USOpen like his compatriot Justin Rose did in 2013, saved the pair.
punch from the sand
Hole 17, the one with the scandal in the year 99, it was inconsequential and the outcome of 18 was reached. Fitzpatrick’s first shot went into a bunker. The immediate precedent for a neophyte, the PGA with the Chilean Mito Pereira, considered the option that he deflate. But Fitzpatrick, a guy with Ryder Cup experience, is a hell of a player. He played a straight shot from the sand line making the flag like he sews. The veteran looked like him and not Billy.
The triumph raises a new figure in the international concert. Only 10 players finished below par, a tolerable number for the USGA, which this time did not think that the wind would be an ally.
Jon Rahm, meanwhile, was not the competitive player on Sundays. He was the worst played of all the contenders with options. He dispatched the last day with +4 . I did not find the right irons to the green, nor did I hole a putt that would have changed the inertia. Until the 11th hole he did not achieve the first birdie, the only one. I didn’t even find the consolation of the top 10. It was twelfth. he
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