Family tees up Matt’s Masters milestone

Matt Fitzpatrick poses with the Havemeyer Trophy after winning in the final round of match play at the 2013 U.S. Amateur at The Country Club in Brookline, Mass. on Sunday, Aug. 18, 2013.  (Copyright USGA/John Mummert)
Matt Fitzpatrick poses with the Havemeyer Trophy after winning in the final round of match play at the 2013 U.S. Amateur at The Country Club in Brookline, Mass. on Sunday, Aug. 18, 2013. (Copyright USGA/John Mummert)
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When Sheffield’s latest sporting star shot to prominence last week by winning his first European Tour golf title, there were only three people he wanted to celebrate with... and they were all there.

21-year-old Matt Fitzpatrick, the former Tapton School pupil, picked up his first professional victory, The British Masters at Woburn Golf Club near Buckinghamshire last Sunday, sparking unforgettable scenes as the 18th green was invaded by his mum Sue, dad Russell and brother Alex.

England's Matthew Fitzpatrick winner of the British Master 2015 : Pic: Niigel French/PA Wire.

England's Matthew Fitzpatrick winner of the British Master 2015 : Pic: Niigel French/PA Wire.

In the immediate aftermath, Fitzpatrick, whose maiden success came just over a year after stepping up from the amateur game, showed just how much it meant for his family to be there to witness the momentous occasion.

“It’s unbelievable,” he told the assembled press at Woburn. “It’s not going to sink in for a long time. A first professional win, British Masters, in England, with my family here. It does not get any better.”

A few days later, back ‘home’ at Hallamshire Golf Club, perched high on Lodge Moor, a more relaxed, yet no less enthused, Fitzpatrick reiterated his immense feelings of gratitude to the people who have been there with him every step of the way.

Driving him up and down the country for competitions since he was able to hold a club, then losing their eldest boy to college in the US and ultimately the professional European Tour, Sue and Russell Fitzpatrick have been there - financially and, more importantly for a young man, emotionally.

“I’m so grateful for what they do,” said Matt. “I wouldn’t be playing golf without them having taken me here, there and everywhere in competitions and spent a lot of money on me to get me to places.”

Mum Sue won’t take any credit.

As far as she is concerned, it’s what they do as she and her husband strive to help their son become the best he can be. And they’re doing it all again with Alex, currently juggling his ‘A’ Levels with life on the greens, having recently represented England in a Home Nations tournament.

“Matt’s coaches are there for the technical stuff... we’re here emotionally and for guidance more than anything else,” said Sue.

“If Matt needs to talk to us, we are here and we’ll offer as much advice as we can. We are so proud of him for what he has achieved. We always will be, no matter what. He has worked so hard, it’s down to him.

“I remember one time driving him to a competition when he was younger and I got talking to another young boy there. He asked how much Matt practices and I said: ‘School holidays? About eight hours a day.’ The lad seemed shocked but that’s the way he has always been.”

Emotional was a word that cropped up a lot for both Matt and his mum.

The win at Woburn seemed almost destiny.

Matthew Fitzpatrick with the British Masters trophy. Picture: Andrew Roe

Matthew Fitzpatrick with the British Masters trophy. Picture: Andrew Roe

His form going into the competition had risen significantly after a slow start to life on the professional Tour. But, by the very nature of the sport, Fitzpatrick’s family support can’t always be there as he jets around the world.

This time they were.

Those closest to him, plus a large number of friends and family, had made the journey south and they got to witness at first hand a stunning feat.

The tears flowed as much as the champagne did.

“It was fantastic for him, a fantastic achievement,” said Sue, who herself has played golf since she was 18.

“And to be there was just perfect. We can’t go to all the tournaments but this one we were obviously able to get to and we are so glad we did.

England's Matthew Fitzpatrick (2nd right) winner of the British Master 2015 with his family during day four of the British Masters at Woburn Golf Club, Little Brickhill. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday October 11, 2015. See PA story GOLF Woburn. Photo credit should read: Nigel French/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Use subject to restrictions. Editorial use only. No commercial use. Call +44 (0)1158 447447 for further information.

England's Matthew Fitzpatrick (2nd right) winner of the British Master 2015 with his family during day four of the British Masters at Woburn Golf Club, Little Brickhill. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday October 11, 2015. See PA story GOLF Woburn. Photo credit should read: Nigel French/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Use subject to restrictions. Editorial use only. No commercial use. Call +44 (0)1158 447447 for further information.

“Russell had been down there all week and I got there on the Saturday. Then Alex arrived on the Sunday.

“It was an unbelievable day, one that none of us will ever forget.”

“It was really emotional,” Sue added. “When he won I ran and gave him a hug and we were keeping it together.

“Then he went off to do his media stuff and I bumped into a friend and after that it all got to me a bit.

“I was so proud and I got a little upset. It just got to me, because I know how hard he has worked to get this far.”

“For years we had driven him all over the country, giving time and money to help him achieve his ambitions. It was tough for him and for us to juggle it all.

“He could be playing in a tournament in Kent so it’s a long drive, then it’s practice first, play in the competition then drive all the way back.

“Then you might have to do it all again the next week.

“It could be tough for us all at times, but we wouldn’t change anything.”

Sue says there was no point during Matt’s development, when people were beginning to talk him up as being a future star, that they allowed themselves, nor him to think that way.

“You can’t,” she added. “Not once did we ever say, ‘Matt could be the next big thing’ or anything like that. We are all very grounded.

“Matt has huge self belief but that’s a good thing.

“Life and sport has a habit of crashing down so you have to stay grounded and just keep working.”

And for all the money that Sue and Russell spent on coaching and petrol and equipment, they now have a son whose earnings this season shot past the £1million mark with that British Masters win.

“It’s nice for me now to repay the favour by winning and hopefully repay them with a bit of money,” said Matt.

“Hopefully the win would be able to take the debt away like that (clicks fingers) but they’re too nice and they wouldn’t let me do that,” he joked.

“I’ll make sure, as daft as it sounds, I will be looking after them now and I think we are going to go on holiday at the end of the year. That one’s on me.

“We’ll go to America for a couple of weeks.”

As for sibling rivalry, even that took a back seat for a while as brother Alex offered his congratulations in the inimitable way brothers do.

“He wouldn’t stop saying on Sunday how proud he was of me.

“I think he’s given it to me now,” said Fitzpatrick. “It’s so competitive in our household. Even dad thinks he can still beat me. There was a moment after all the media stuff and I gave my dad a hug and he said ‘Remember, I still beat you’.”

The way things are going, Russell Fitzpatrick is going to be one of the few people who can lay claim to that.