When Matt Fitzpatrick turned professional, the knock on the scrawny English kid was that he couldn’t hit it out of his shadow when it came to the distance game that is so much the fore-front in today’s professional game.
Fitz was a world-class amateur and his win at the 2013 U.S. Amateur (also at The Country Club) back that up.
Now he’s taken care of that lack of power.
“I don’t know if you guys noticed, but I feel like he has made some extreme improvements off the tee in a matter of months,” said Masters champion Scottie Scheffler.
Scheffler noticed earlier this year at the WGC Match Play, “I played with him in Austin this year, and he was not hitting it nearly as far as he is now. I don’t know what he was doing. Maybe he was on the Bryson [DeChambeau] program or something. He’s hitting the ball really well and has been knocking on the door for a long time. He definitely deserves this win.”
The truth to this major championship for Fitzpatrick is that he won it the old fashioned way — he basically worked his butt off and is pretty obsessive when it comes to his game — so doing what was necessary to get stronger with added clubhead speed, well, he went after it.
“I’ve done my drug test, and it was negative, so we’re all good,” Fitzpatrick said smiling at his post-victory presser.
He explained how, since 2020, he’s spent considerable time working with trainer Mike Walker and bio-mechanist Sasho Mackenzie to get longer. Mackenzie gave him a speed-training regimen called The Stack System.
“I’ve been doing that religiously week in and week out,” Fitzpatrick said. “It’s like going to the gym basically. It’s like a training program. I’ll be honest, it’s worked wonders. I feel like maybe three years ago if I was in this position, four years ago, and I was playing with Will in the final group, I’d be concerned that I’m going to be 15, 20 (yards) behind him. And I felt comfortable all day that I was going to be past him, which to me, gives me confidence obviously going into the next shot knowing that you’ve got less club.
“I don’t know. There’s a bit of a mentality thing that when you’re hitting it past people, it’s quite nice,” he added.
Along with that added distance is the fact that Fitzgerald is methodical and disciplined to a high degree. Since age 15, he’s kept a spreadsheet of every ball he’s ever hit. He plays Trackman games to strengthen his practice routines. He’s Bryson DeChambeau without all the bulk and quirkiness.
Caddie Billy Foster has worked with some of Europe’s biggest names and he’s so very bullish on Matt.
“From when I started four years ago,” Foster said, “he’s a different animal completely. He’s a proper player now. I don’t know where it’s come from, but his work ethic is like no other.”
Fitzgerald will also try new things if he things it can help. He started chipping cross-handed two years ago and found the results more consistent for him. He’s putted with the flagstick in as soon as the rules allowed it.
His brother Alex added his thoughts: “There’s just a dedication to getting better each day,” Alex said. “The one percent every day gets him there and separates him from everyone else.”
So maybe that incredible bunker shot at the 72nd hole wasn’t a stroke of luck. Practice and preparation, a lot of it — yielded a fantastic result.
Rory McIlroy knows how far Fitzpatrick has progressed.
Not long after the English star holed the winning putt, Rory was waiting in the wings to congratulate him.
“All that work pays off,” Rory told him. “I’m so happy for you!”