Danny Hall: Matt Fitzpatrick reveals his American dream ahead of Ryder Cup bow

Matt Fitzpatrick on the tee
Matt Fitzpatrick on the tee

If you can’t beat them, join them, they say.

Unless you happen to be Matthew Fitzpatrick, in which case you can try and do both.

Sheffield's Ryder Cup duo Danny Willett and Matt Fitzpatrick

Sheffield's Ryder Cup duo Danny Willett and Matt Fitzpatrick

It’s a plan that came about from conversations with Jack Nicklaus, the legendary American who has taken a very keen interest in the career of 22-year-old Sheffielder Fitzpatrick.

The Golden Bear sat down with the Golden Boy and Fitzpatrick came away knowing where his future lies; moving to America and joining the PGA Tour ranks.

“He said you have to play against the best to be the best,” Fitzpatrick told the Daily Telegraph this week.

“And that’s my plan: to join the PGA Tour and live over there.

“I’m looking at buying a house in the States at the end of the year.

“The thing is a lot of the European lads have gone over and tried it and not liked the US.

“Some go over there for a month or so, at a time, some don’t go over at all. The thing is, I love it in America. I’ll be all in.”

Before joining the Americans, though, Fitzpatrick faces them in the Ryder Cup at Hazeltine, which begins tomorrow - with Nicklaus’ words of considerable wisdom still ringing in his ears.

“Jack is the greatest player to ever have played the game and he’s taking interest in my career?” Fitzpatrick added.

“It’s really humbling and when he says something I’m going to listen. I’m going to do exactly what he says.

“But I’d back myself against anyone, Jordan Spieth or whoever, but there’s no doubt that the standard they play in, week in week out, is better than I do.

“That’s just factual and I’m sure I’d only improve. It’s difficult to judge myself against the likes of Jordan, Patrick Reed and Rickie Fowler and the rest of that young crop as I haven’t really played that much with them.

“Yeah, it would be good to rate myself against them.”

The Hallamshire youngster isn’t to be underestimated, either. After becoming the first Englishman to become US Amateur champion in over a century, he left Northwestern University in Chicago and turned professional. With two European Tour wins on his CV, he flew to the US for his first Ryder Cup inside the world’s top 50.

The intensity of the Ryder Cup is a world away from his early days on the lush greens of Hallamshire, but the pressure of the crowd won’t unnerve him.

Far from it, actually. Bring it on, he says.

“Everyone’s been telling me about the Ryder Cup that I won’t believe what it’s like until I’ve experienced it,” he added.

“But the way I’m looking at it is that if I’m lucky enough to play in the opening sessions, I’ll be with an experienced campaigner and will have someone to talk to.

“I get nervous but it doesn’t affect my game. I actually prefer a bigger crowd. I remember in Sweden a few years ago there was nobody watching our group and I found it really difficult.

“I hate playing for money in friendly matches, because I just cant get that level of intensity.

“I think the Ryder Cup should be intense enough, though.”