Jackpot win “10 million times better than I thought”

Matt Fitzpatrick has admitted he’s still getting used to his status as major champion, six months after his emotional victory at the US Open in Brooklyn.

In a special program for BBC Radio 5 Live and BBC Sounds – which will initially air on December 24 at 13:00 BST – the 28-year-old from Sheffield said: “It was 10 million times better than I thought it would feel done after winning a major.

“It has been very rewarding.”

But Fitzpatrick, who won the US Amateur Championships at the same Massachusetts tournament in 2013, also admitted he’s had mixed feelings since lifting the trophy.

“It’s very strange,” he admitted. “I did that and he’s like ‘cool, let’s go try to win some more’ but at the same time I had ‘Okay I’ve done it now why do I have to do more?'” “

“I’ve talked to a few people about it and it’s a very common trait after they’ve achieved success. I always push myself too hard, people always say you’re too hard on yourself and maybe I am too.

“But it was leading up to that moment of winning a major championship. The first few weeks after that it was pure joy and everything was amazing and then the dust settles and you have to get up and do it all over again.”

Fitzpatrick is enjoying a welcome winter break and is unlikely to spend much time working on his game. Any golf he plays will be purely recreational.

“Right now, I’m just trying to find that balance,” he said.

The show details his epic one-stroke win at the Country Club over Masters champion Scotty Scheffler and fellow American Will Zlatoris.

In addition to Fitzpatrick, the program hears from caddy Billy Foster, coach Mike Walker, and the player’s family.

Foster told us about the phone call he made to his player because his on-court attitude was so bad — he was “tripping on his bottom lip” — at a tournament in Hilton Head a week after this year’s Masters.

“It’s the only time I’ve ever evaluated FaceTimed and I’ve told him about it directly,” Foster stated. “I said ;” Look at everything about your game, your work ethic, the way you drive, the way you shoot, the way you shoot, the way you handle everything very professionally.

“It’s a 10 out of 10 Matt, but your attitude is two out of 10. It sucks. And if you ever want to achieve what you want to achieve, you have to tackle it or you won’t achieve what I think you can come up with.”

“Let me tell you, you’re pretty close. You’re on the cusp of something pretty big here, so get your stand in order, okay? I left it with that.”

In the next major, the US PGA Championship at Southern Hills, Fitzpatrick showed significant improvement and was in contention until the final two holes. But for the player, Brooklyn was always the primary target.

It is known that he resided with his family in the same house near Boston as he did when he won the All-American Amateur nine years earlier. The owners were the Fultons and Will Fulton was the general in charge of the US Open in Brooklyn.

“When he came back he wanted everyone to be in the same bedroom,” Will told the programme. “He wanted everyone to do exactly what we did in 2013.

“We have four children and they are older now and nine years ago they were obviously toddlers. So everyone had to go back to the same places and sleep in the same beds and it worked out perfectly.”

A golfer who tended to work hard, says Walker, who coached Fitzpatrick for 13 years, but from the moment he began teaching him, he had an demeanor that set him apart from the rest.

“The psychological maturity that he had was far beyond his years at the time,” Walker said. “From an early age, he always wanted to tick every box with an unmistakable mindset.”

Walker also told the story of how Fitzpatrick’s youthful appearance led to him being a victim of mistaken identity when he made his Ryder Cup debut at Hazeltine in 2016.

“He went into the merchandise tent and they asked him how the Junior Ryder Cup went. He had to say, No I’m playing next week!” Walker said.

Now Fitzpatrick has transformed himself into one of the game’s greatest hitters, one who has reached career highs. His nine home runs from a Fairway bunker at the end to seal the championship win was an unforgettable moment.

“He hit the golf ball of the season,” said Foster, who had a series of near misses in the majors when bagging players like Thomas Bjorn, Darren Clarke and Lee Westwood.

“Fitz is arguably the most professional player I’ve ever worked with,” Foster added. His work ethic, the effort he puts into every section of his game.

“He writes down every shot, whether it’s on the range, and everything goes into his spreadsheet. It’s incredible.”

All of this effort culminated in this exceptionally big victory and the great moments enjoyed by the tight-knit community around the player.

Will Fulton remembers sitting at home the morning after the victory. “About 7 o’clock in the morning,” he said, “I’m out there alone enjoying this quiet moment, and Matt sticks his head around the corner as he leans in.

“And I see him looking at me and saying ‘Hi, congratulations.’ And in his left hand the US Open trophy is swinging in front of him.

“We both started laughing and maybe talked for an hour, just the two of us. It’s a moment in my life that I will never forget.”

Everything about that victory, you feel, is indelibly imprinted on the memories of all involved.

Although it appears the dust is still settling, it stands to reason that Fitzpatrick should very soon be ready to return to the full mile again in pursuit of more big name glory.

Listen to Matt Fitzpatrick: Master Champion on BBC Radio 5 Live and BBC Sounds from 13:00 GMT on Saturday 24 December and 05:00 on Monday 26 December.

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