If Matt Fitzpatrick didn’t already love his 9-iron, he certainly does now. The club helped the Englishman win the 2022 U.S. Open at The Country Club, finessing a miraculous shot from the left fairway bunker on the 18th hole to secure his first win on the PGA Tour.
On Sunday, Fitzpatrick’s 9-iron proved the difference again with a marvelous pin-seeking shot to within a foot, sealing the victory for the former Northwestern standout after three playoff holes.
But it was Fitzpatrick’s work on Saturday that made his win Sunday possible. En route to a career-best eight-under round on moving day, Fitzpatrick dazzled, holing out from 149 yards on the 3rd for eagle. Thanks to his quick and compact swing, the Englishman played the rest of his third round bogey-free, and with the putter hot, finished the round with six birdies. The putter stayed on fire for the rest of the event, with Fitzpatrick finishing the tournament sinking all 62 of his putts within eight feet.
Saving par late in the third round is what kept Fitzpatrick at the top of the leaderboard heading into Sunday. After a poor bunker shot on the 15th hole, the ex-Cat drained a 16-footer to save his par. But even more impressively, after a wayward tee shot on the par-3 17th forced Fitzpatrick to chip out away from the pin, the former Wildcat sank a putt from off the green to stay bogey-free.
But the front nine in the fourth round wasn’t as kind to Fitzpatrick as it was the day earlier. While Jordan Spieth started off hot, tying the lead after six holes, Fitzpatrick bogeyed the 7th, falling out of first place. Still, the Englishman hung around, parring the next seven holes before birdying the 15th and 16th to tie Spieth at the top of the leaderboard.
With an opportunity to birdie the 17th after an aggressive tee shot, Fitzpatrick misread an eight-foot putt, ultimately setting up the playoff against Spieth.
In the playoff, with Spieth narrowly missing two tournament-clinching putts on the first and second holes, Fitzpatrick weathered the storm and capitalized. He birdied the third playoff hole — good for a $3.6 million payday, $360,000 more than Jon Rahm earned for winning The 2023 Masters.
Fitzpatrick joined Nick Faldo as the second English golfer to ever win the RBC Heritage. For reference, former Northwestern star and fellow Englishman Luke Donald has finished runner-up at The Heritage five times since turning pro in 2001, this time finishing tied for 67th.
His second win on the PGA Tour, Fitzpatrick has made winning in familiar environments his thing. The winner of the 2013 U.S. Amateur at The Country Club in Brookline, Massachusetts, Fitzpatrick’s victory at the 2022 U.S. Open in Brookline wasn’t unfamiliar.
At Harbour Town, Fitzpatrick’s connection comes from childhood. Since he was 6, Fitzpatrick’s family vacationed in Hilton Head, South Carolina, giving him the opportunity to play on the course. The fond memories had the Englishman sporting the Harbour Town Lighthouse as his driver headcover for the week — a tradition he’s had since 2016 at the RBC Heritage.
Truly amazing week, been said so much but this place is so special to me. The one outside of the majors I’ve always wanted to win more than any other tournament in the world! To share it with my parents and girlfriend just makes it so much more incredible!! pic.twitter.com/oqPrBsGhIv— Matt Fitzpatrick (@MattFitz94) April 17, 2023
After a top-10 finish at The Masters and now another PGA Tour victory under his belt, Fitzpatrick’s game is the best it’s been since his win in Brookline last summer. Yet finishing on top of a competitive field featuring seven of the world’s top 10 golfers not only proves that Fitzpatrick can compete at the highest level, but shows that he is part of the game’s elite tier of talent.
Now ranked No. 8 in the world, Fitzpatrick will play in next week’s Zurich Classic with his brother Alex in the two-man team format.