Golf: Matt returns home with plans to carry on as the world’s best

Matt Fitzpatrick at Hallamshire Golf Club last summer
Matt Fitzpatrick at Hallamshire Golf Club last summer

Sheffield’s US Amateur champion Matt Fitzpatrick has no doubts he’s made the right decision in returning to the city.

The 19-year-old was expected to spend the next four years completing a golf scholarship at Northwestern University in Chicago but his brilliant form in 2013 has convinced him to concentrate fully on his golf this year.

Not only was Fitzpatrick the first Englishman to win the US Amateur title since 1911 he also finished as the leading amateur at last July’s Open Championship, was runner-up in the English Amateur championship and was a key member of the Great Britain and Ireland Walker Cup team.

Even at a tender age people and circumstances change and it is this, rather than a reported desire to turn professional, that convinced him his future was better spent this side of the Atlantic Ocean.

“I made my decision to commit to Northwestern at the end of 2012,” he told the Telegraph.

“And then everything happened. Things change.”

Fitzpatrick has long been considered a young golfer to look out for.

But the leap he made to the top of the World Amateur rankings last year after finishing his A Levels suggests he could be something special.

The Hallamshire Golf Club-based Fitzpatrick is likely to take part in three of the sport’s four major championships this season. And he’s sure to receive invites to other high profile events.

However, for the foreseeable future he has no inclination to relinquish his amateur status. He said: “I want to be at my very best this year.

“It was a difficult decision to make but one that I thought about for a long time.

“I felt it was best to concentrate entirely on my golf so I can be as good as I could possibly be.

“I want to try and defend my US Amateur title and unless something crazy happens, like a top 10 or 20 in a major, I’ve no plans to turn pro.

“If that did happen then I may have to reassess.

“But there’s no rush to turn professional. If I feel I’m ready then I’ll talk it through with my coach and my family.

“There’s still lots of opportunities for me. I’m happy to see how 2014 goes and there’s also another Walker Cup in 2015.”

Now back practicing at the familiar surroundings of Hallamshire, Fitzpatrick has started to plan his tournaments schedule.

As US Amateur champion he is almost certain to receive an invitation to the Arnold Palmer Classic, in Orlando, Florida (March 20-23), which takes place three weeks before the Masters at Augusta, Georgia (April 10-13).

He’ll also play in June’s US Open at Pinehurst No 2 in North Carolina and The Open Championship at Royal Liverpool (Hoylake) in July.

He said: “I looked at my calendar from 2013. I did 12 events and that worked out well for me.

“Maybe I’ll do 16 this year. I want to plan it properly.”

Fitzpatrick was in the form of his life last year. It kicked in during The Open qualifying tournament when he decided to “just enjoy it”. From there he dominated the amateur scene.

While the American university experiment may not have worked out as first planned the one thing that hasn’t changed is that Fitzpatrick is still a class act.