He may look like the offspring of former England cricket captain Michael Atherton, but it’s golf in which exceptionally talented young Yorkshireman Matt Fitzpatrick looks to have a very bright future indeed.
Fitzpatrick claimed a fantastic first European Tour win on Sunday at the British Masters, the youngest man in the field, still just 21, completing a wire-to-wire victory at Woburn by two shots.
He’d been on the cusp of a maiden professional title for a few weeks, with four top-three finishes in his previous 11 events, and regular readers may recall I highlighted him as one to watch out for last month.
Fitzpatrick has plenty of strengths: he is very straight off the tee, hits long irons well, and also possesses a great short game. He is very confident too.
He’s a player, in the purest sense. He doesn’t kill courses by hitting the ball a country mile, like a Jason Day, although he does look to have got bigger physically, which will help him in that respect.
He made a name for himself in 2013 by winning the US Amateur, and that will have stood him in very good stead. It takes enormous resolve for a boy from Sheffield to go to America and win over there.
This win has come at a perfect time. It has moved him up to 12th in the Race To Dubai, meaning he is in with a chance of scooping some of the European Tour’s end-of-season riches.
It has also lifted him top of the early Ryder Cup points list. He has spoken about his hopes of playing in next year’s contest and I’ve no doubt he would be a great asset to the team.
Cracking the world’s top 50 before the end of the year, and therefore earning a Masters invite, will be his immediate goal. His first title has lifted him from 111 to 59 in the rankings, so it’s in sight.
When you are blessed with a game like Fitzpatrick’s, the best thing you can do is just keep playing. That win will have changed his life and he’ll so happy next time he plays, but it may just be the start of his success.
Far away from Woburn, meanwhile, the United States were narrowly winning the Presidents Cup in South Korea, in an event much improved by a change in format that gave the International Team more of a chance.
It was heartbreaking for the hosts but fairytale stuff for the Americans, as it came down to the last hole of the last singles match, between Sang-Moon Bae and Bill Haas, son of US captain Jay.
Jay Haas found himself in an almost identical situation at the 1995 Ryder Cup, where he needed to win the final hole against Ireland’s Philip Walton to square the match and avoid losing the cup to Europe.
He didn’t, so it must have been emotional seeing his son in that scenario, but Haas Jr justified his wildcard selection by beating Bae.