IAN LADYMAN: Matt Fitzpatrick is chuffed his younger brother has qualified for the Open this week

new balance


Amid the calm of a Sunday morning on the Wirral, Matt Fitzpatrick embarked on a Hoylake practice round that was to only last two holes.

‘I had something I needed to work on,’ the 2022 US Open champion said on Monday. That something was his driving, two push fades and one hook off the first here enough to persuade Fitzpatrick that his time was best served on the range.

But by then a tick had already been placed in a significant and arguably more important box. For Fitzpatrick’s partner on Sunday had been younger brother Alex, who qualified for his first Open with a closing round of 65 to overhaul the likes of Sergio Garcia at nearby West Lancashire last week.

The Fitzpatricks are the first English brothers to play in an Open for more than 50 years and asked whether Sunday on the first tee had been a pinch yourself moment, Fitzpatrick said: ‘Yeah. It’s my little brother. I’ve almost wanted to give Francesco and Edoardo (Molinari) a call and ask them what it’s like.

Matt Fitzpatrick (right) will play in the Open Championship this weekend in the same field as his brother Alex (left)

Matt Fitzpatrick (right) will play in the Open Championship this weekend in the same field as his brother Alex (left)

The 2022 US Open Champion played a practice round on Monday at Royal Hoylake alongside his brother

The 2022 US Open Champion played a practice round on Monday at Royal Hoylake alongside his brother 

Fitzpatrick said he was chuffed to be playing with his brother but it would be his 'worst nightmare' if they both made it to the final group on Sunday

Fitzpatrick said he was chuffed to be playing with his brother but it would be his ‘worst nightmare’ if they both made it to the final group on Sunday

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‘People ask, “What would you do if you were in the final group on Sunday?”. That would be kind of my worst nightmare, to be honest. But yeah, it’s an exciting week. I’m just so pleased for him. It’s great, it gives him a good boost of confidence qualifying, and there’s no reason why he can’t do well.’

While Fitzpatrick senior, 28, is ranked ninth in the world, has one major and eight other PGA and European Tour wins to his name — including April’s RBC Heritage — his 24-year-old brother plays mainly on the Challenge Tour and has a world ranking of 561.

TALE OF THE TAPE 

Matt Fitzpatrick

Age: 28

Residence: Florida

Turned Pro: 2014 

World Ranking: 9

Majors Won: 1 

Alex Fitzpatrick

Age: 24

Residence: Sheffield

Turned Pro: 2022

World Ranking: 561

Majors Won: 0 

Alex has spoken previously of his immense pride at Matt’s achievements but has also been honest about the struggles of making a living in the shadow of such a high-achieving sibling.

Fitzpatrick senior nodded and said: ‘I remember when I first got on tour, Alex was still at my golf club, the Hallamshire in Sheffield, and members would come up to him all the time and ask, “How’s Matt doing? Where’s Matt?”.

‘It was not, “How are you doing? How’s your game?”. It was always asking about me. Well, I completely understand how it feels now because it’s the other way around. Literally the majority of the questions are, “How’s Alex?”. I totally get how it is and I’m sure for him growing up it was probably very annoying. It’s hard for him to kind of have his own identity and his own game.

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‘Actually we are polar opposites. On paper my strengths are driving and putting and his strengths are short game and approach play.

‘Then off the golf course, we are just literally polar opposites. I’m like a control freak, OCD, organised, and he’s not. We are sharing a house this week and that’s all fine. Fortunately my parents are there to take care of him.’

Evidence from the range on Monday would suggest that Fitzpatrick has sorted out that wonky driving and didn’t seen overly traumatised by a missed cut at last week’s windswept Scottish Open in North Berwick, given how bad the weather got over the weekend.

Still, though, Fitzpatrick doesn’t give himself much of a chance this week. ‘The Open is my weakest major, to be honest’ he said. ‘So my expectations have probably got to match my results previously. My best finish might be like a tied 18th (it’s Tied 20 from 2019 in Portrush).

‘I’ve got to be realistic about where I am, where my game is. It’s not obviously where I would like it to be. Everyone would like to be playing golf like Rory McIlroy and Scottie Scheffler right now, but that’s pretty rare for the rest of us.

Alex qualified for the championship last week, beating the likes of Sergio Garcia to gain a berth in the tournament

Alex qualified for the championship last week, beating the likes of Sergio Garcia to gain a berth in the tournament

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The brothers are the first English brothers to play in the major for more than 50 years, with Francesco and Edoardo Molinari being a recent sibling duo to have teed it up at the event

The brothers are the first English brothers to play in the major for more than 50 years, with Francesco and Edoardo Molinari being a recent sibling duo to have teed it up at the event

Fitzpatrick will be hoping to undo a disappointing missed cut at the Scottish Open in North Berwick

Fitzpatrick will be hoping to undo a disappointing missed cut at the Scottish Open in North Berwick 

‘So I think for me a good finish, all jokes aside, would be kind of top 30 this week. I really do. I’ve not played well in Opens and I wouldn’t say that I’m in the best form, either.

‘I couldn’t really tell you why this is but if I had to play one last round in the world, I wouldn’t choose a links golf course. Don’t get me wrong, I love playing great links golf courses. I love playing Muirfield and Turnberry and this place is fantastic, as well.

‘It’s in great shape, and I’m really looking forward to playing it. There’s loads of great places. It’s just for me it doesn’t necessarily suit my eye.’

With the Open field steadily assembling on Merseyside over the start of this week, the world’s best players are starting to get a taste of Hoylake’s new 17th hole, a short par three that plays out towards the Dee Estuary. Asked for his take on the hole, Fitzpatrick was rather blunt.

‘Interesting,’ he said. Anything else? ‘I will leave it at that.’

new balance



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