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A Q&A with Matt Fitzpatrick: Why he left and what he's up to now

It's been a busy, but successful run for the star golfer since he left NU to focus on golf.

Ross Kinnaird

Matthew Fitzpatrick arrived on campus last fall as one of Northwestern's most prized recruits in history, having won the U.S. Amateur and taken Low Amateur honors at the British Open. But when he left campus after only one quarter, there were lots of questions. We caught up with Matt to discuss what he's doing now and why he decided to leave Northwestern.

Inside NU: Update us on your career as of right now. Where are you? What's your tournament schedule been like? What are your travel plans for the rest of the year?

Matt Fitzpatrick: I'm talking to you from Italy, actually! I'm here for the EMC Challenge on the Challenge Tour (the European equivalent of the Tour, the lead development tour that's one step below the PGA Tour). It's been so far so good out here, had a couple of top 10s and moving up the rankings a bit, which is always nice. I've been pretty busy the past four weeks- I had a four-week stretch during which I went Switzerland, Holland, Kazakhstan and Dubai. The first two were European Tour events, the third was Challenge Tour and last was a MENA Tour event that I had to play to fulfil an agreement in my contract with Dubai Golf. I have another three-week stretch coming up where I'll be in China for two weeks and Oman for one. This game of golf keeps you traveling, that's for sure!

INU: What was your thought process when you decided to leave last December? What were the main reasons for your departure?

MF: I got home just before Christmas and it was great to be home after a long three months. But I don't want people thinking I was really homesick while I was away, because that wasn't the case. I left Northwestern because I felt I had more than a few opportunities that I simply couldn't turn down and may not have again. I was able to play in some PGA tour events on sponsor's exemptions (took 24th at the RBC Heritage Open), and I played in the Masters in April. I wanted my game to be in tip-top shape for the Masters, as I'm sure all of you can understand. I was also able to make the cut in the United States Open, which was a thrill. All in all, I weighed the pros and cons of being in school and I felt as though the best use of my time was focusing on my future.

INU: What did leaving school allow you to do better? Did you become a better player?

MF: Leaving school allowed me to practice golf full time. It effectively became my job- I wasn't getting paid, as I was still an amateur, but I was a full time amateur. My days consisted of 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. in the afternoon at the golf club, where I would practice each and every aspect of my game. I wasn't able to do that at Northwestern with a full load of classes and homework. I was able to make a schedule, but because I had so much free time I had to make sure I was using it efficiently, and I think I was able to do that. I felt it helped me become a better player because I could devote my entire life to golf, distraction-free.

INU: What are your goals for 2015?

MF: My goals for 2015 depend on the outcome of this year. If I manage to get a European Tour card by finishing in the top-15 on the year-end Challenge Tour Money list, then it will be to maintain that and just do as well as I can. However, if I don't, it is to get a European Tour card through either Qualifying School or by earning enough money from sponsor's invites.

INU: What do you miss most about college life?

MF: I miss so much about Northwestern! I had such a great time there and met some great friends from men's football, girls tennis, girls lacrosse, men's and women's soccer as well as the general student body. I always say to people that I would class my friends at NU as some of the closest I have, as you truly do spend all day with your friends in college. I really want to come back and visit everyone, because I truly do miss my time at Evanston. I hope to be back soon!

(Note: Some sentences were slightly altered for grammatical changes, with Matt's permission.)