Fitzpatrick Edges Zalatoris, Scheffler by One Stroke in the 122nd U.S. Open

Matt Fitzpatrick of England probably loves The Country Club as much as hometown boy Francis Ouimet did.

The 27-year-old Fitzpatrick, who won the 2013 U.S. Amateur on the venerable course, did it again on Sunday when he made a clutch par on the last hole to cap a 2-under-par 68 to beat Will Zalatoris and top-ranked Scottie Scheffler by one stroke in the 122nd United States Open in Brookline, Mass.

The 20-year-old Ouimet, an amateur who lived across the street from the 17th hole at The Country Club, made the course famous when he upset English superstars Harry Vardon and Ted Ray in the 1913 U.S. Open on his home course.

“The feeling is out of this world,” said Fitzpatrick, who became the first Englishman to win the U.S. Open since Justin Rose in 2013 and only the second since Tony Jacklin in 1970 while rising to No. 10 in the world. “It is so cliche, but it’s stuff you dream of as a kid. To achieve it, I could retire a happy man tomorrow. I feel like I certainly worked hard for it.

“It’s what you grow up dreaming of. It’s something I’ve worked so hard for, for such a long time. It was a big monkey on my back trying to win (in the United States). That’s all everyone talked about was that. To do it with a major for my first win, there’s nothing better.

“I’ve obviously won (at The Country Club) twice now. I’m trying to get every tour event around here.”

Fitzpatrick, who has won seven times on the DP World Tour, earned a share of the lead with Zalatoris by sinking a 50-foot birdie putt on the 13th hole and took a two-stroke lead over Zalatoris and Scheffler with a 19-foot birdie putt en route to a winning score of 6-under 274.

However, it wasn’t over until the final hole, as Zalatoris holed a seven-foot birdie putt on the 16th and Scheffler holed a 20-footer for birdie at No. 17.

Needing only a par on the final hole to guarantee no worse than a playoff, Fitzpatrick pulled his drive to the left into a fairway bunker before hitting an incredible approach shot to within 18 feet of the hole. After he missed his birdie putt and tapped in for a par, Zalatoris barely missed his 14-foot birdie attempt that would have forced a playoff.

“Matt’s shot on 18 is going to be shown probably for the rest of U.S. Open history,” said Zalatoris, who lost a playoff lost to Justin Thomas in the PGA Championship last month and was second to Hideki Matsuyama of Japan in the 2021 Masters. “I walked by it, and I thought that going for it was going to be ballsy. But the fact that he pulled it off and even had a birdie look was just incredible. So hat’s off to him. He played great all week obviously and gave a solid round today.

“ … It stings, but we’re obviously doing the right things. This one hurts in particular pretty hard, but it’s motivating. I’ve got to keep doing what I’m doing. I know I’m going to get one sooner or later.”

Said Fitzpatrick of his shot on the final hole: “If there was one shot that I’ve struggled with this year that I just do not want, it’s a fairway bunker shot. I guess (caddie) Billy (Foster) just took over. It’s one of the best shots I’ve hit of all-time. When I saw it leave the sand and I felt the strike, I couldn’t have been happier.”

Zalatoris, the 2020-21 PGA Tour Rookie of the Year who has yet to win on the circuit despite finishing in the top 10 of six majors in the last three seasons, bounced back from two early bogeys with three birdies late in the front nine and wound up at 69.

Scheffler, who has won four times this season including the Masters, birdied four of the first six holes before making bogeys and Nos. 10 and 11 on his way to a 67.

“This week I hit some of the worst shots I’ve hit in my career, and I hit some of the best ones, so it was kind of a roller-coaster weekend,” said Scheffler, who has finished in the top 10 of six majors in the last three years.

“Tip of the hat to Fitzy. He’s been playing really good golf and he definitely deserved to win this event.”

Matsuyama, who won the Zozo Championship and the Sony Open in Hawaii earlier this season, posted a bogey-free 65 to finishing three shots back in solo third, while now second-ranked Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland shot 69 and was four down in a tie for fourth with fourth-ranked Collin Morikawa of La Canada Flintridge and Cal, who finished at 66.

Denny McCarthy birdied three of the first five holes en route to a 68 and was five down in a tie for seventh with Adam Hadwin of Canada and local favorite Keegan Bradley, who both totaled 71, while Gary Woodland, the 2019 U.S. Open champion, had a 69 and was six shots behind in a tie for 10th with second-round co-leader Joel Dahmen, who came in a 71.

Third-ranked Jon Rahm, the defending champion, slid to a tie for 12th after a 74, sixth-ranked Patrick Cantlay of Los Alamitos and UCLA shot 69 to finish in a tie for 14th that included 2021 Olympic Gold Medalist Xander Schauffele of La Jolla and San Diego State, who would up at 68, while 2013 U.S. Open champ Dustin Johnson tied for 24th after a 72.

Ninth-ranked Sam Burns struggle to a 76 to tie for 26th, while the fifth-ranked Thomas wound up at 74 to finish in a tie for 37th that included Jordan Spieth, who slipped to No. 11 after another 74.

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