Fitzpatrick’s First Big Decision

Barely two weeks into a new year and a couple of stories have knocked us onto our heels. Those with news antennae attuned to relationships probably expected the engagement of Rory McIlroy to Caroline Wozniacki. But Matthew Fitzpatrick, the Englishman who won the U.S. Amateur last summer on his way to being named the No. 1 amateur in the world, leaving Northwestern University in Chicago after one term? That definitely came from the blind side. Fitzpatrick played some spectacular golf in 2013. He won the silver medal for being the low amateur in the Open at Muirfield, finishing tied 44th. He won the U.S. Amateur, the first Englishman to achieve this since Harold Hilton in 1911, and then received the Mark H. McCormack Medal as the leading men’s amateur in the world rankings at year’s end. This sort of play last year earned him places in this year’s Masters, the U.S. Open at Pinehurst and the Open at Royal Liverpool and suggested that he will one day play as a professional, as he certainly will. But most people had not expected him to take this step towards playing the game full time quite so soon. Fitzpatrick, 19, told a small circle of friends in the UK of his intention when he was home for Christmas. It was a surprise in Britain, where he is admired as much for his character and levelheadedness as his golf, and to his teammates and coach in the U.S. Fitzpatrick ranked second for his university team last autumn with a 71.73 stroke average. He had three top-20 and two top-10 finishes in five events.


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