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‘I Do Things Very Differently’: U.S. Open Champ Matt Fitzpatrick Explains Secrets to Success

The scene: On the clubhouse patio at Harbour Town, five days before Fitzpatrick’s win at the RBC Heritage.

(This interview was originally published in the June 2023 issue of GOLF Magazine.)

Dylan Dethier: You’re the defending champion at this year’s U.S. Open. How has life changed since last June?

Matt Fitzpatrick: It’s changed a lot, yeah. I think the biggest thing is just people ask for more of my time. Sponsors ask for more of it, tournaments ask for more of it. There’s more media interviews. But, on the whole, it just feels like I’ve got to be better with my time management.

DD: Well, thanks for saying yes to this. Does the media stuff come naturally to you?

MF: I’ve never had any media training or anything. I don’t think anyone out here has, really. To me, I just treat it as having a conversation. Super simple. And I just try to be honest. I don’t think there’s any point in lying. You’ve just got to be yourself.

DD: You’re known for meticulous statistical tracking. Are other golfers catching up? How do you stay ahead of them?

MF: [Chuckling] No, I don’t think they’ll ever catch up, because I’ve got a head start and I think I’m always trying to get better with it. My tracking has changed a lot, and it’s gotten better over time. Just the way we’ve done things, the way we practice, the way we record things, what we record — it’s helped me massively. Now, more than ever, time management is really important. I think it’s been really helpful in streamlining my practice.

DD: From a strategy standpoint, what’s the biggest mistake you see pros make?

MF: Just standing in the same spot on the range and just hitting at the same target over and over and over again. But I’m fine with them doing that — good for me.

Fitzpatrick and veteran looper Billy Porter embrace at Brookline. For both Brits, it was a first win at a major.WARREN LITTLE/GETTY IMAGES

DD: Did you always see the U.S. Open as the major you’d be most likely to win?

MF: Yeah, definitely. They’re always known to be tough tests, tight fairways, high scoring. And that’s where I feel like I play well. Winning at six under kind of proves that.

DD: You seem to just rise to the top whenever weather is bad, conditions are tough and scores are high. Why is that?

MF: I’ve thought about this a lot and it’s tough to say. But my big thing is I think, just naturally, I play disciplined, and because I play disciplined, when the weather is poor, I can adjust. When the weather’s bad and the scoring’s not great, the bogeys start adding up if you don’t adjust your game plan, and a lot of guys don’t necessarily do that.

DD: You do things distinctly your own way. Do you have people on Tour who you confide in or look up to? And, if so, who are they?

MF: Uh, not really, no. Like you say, I do things very differently to everyone else. I’m always kind of trying to look outside the box — within reason.

Harry Higgs said it best: ‘No one out here is friends. We’re all just acquaintances.’ The Tour is kind of just a glorified traveling office.”

DD: I think, from the outside, people just assume that all the star players on the PGA Tour are friends. In reality it’s fairly individualistic, huh?

MF: Harry Higgs said it best. A few years ago he told me, “No one out here is friends. We’re all just acquaintances.” If you think about it, the Tour is kind of just a glorified traveling office. Look, sometimes guys are really close; take Justin Thomas and Jordan Spieth. But for me? There’s no one really that I would say that I’m truly close with. I get on really well with Tyrrell [Hatton] and Tommy [Fleetwood] and Danny [Willett] and all the English lads. But it’s not like we’re going ’round to each other’s houses on the weekend.

DD: What’s your favorite and least favorite part of living in a traveling circus-slash-office?

MF: Traveling circus might be more appropriate. Favorite part? Just playing golf for a living, isn’t it? You go to these great places, you play these great courses. The worst part? Probably the early starts. No other sport has the athletes getting up at 5 a.m. to go play.

DD: Do you circle tournaments on the calendar? Are you keyed in on this year’s U.S. Open or anything else?

MF: Not really. If the U.S. Open was at Brookline again, then, yes. But it’s at LACC, a golf course no one’s played before in any professional tournament that I know of. But, obviously, the four majors are what matter to everyone.

DD: If you were in charge of the U.S. Open, what would be your ideal setup?

MF: Brookline. [Laughs.] In all seriousness, it’s the first tournament I think I’ve ever played where they graded the rough completely fairly. Where if you miss the fairway by a yard, you’re in the first cut. And if you miss it by five yards, you’re in, like, a semi-rough that’s not great. And if you miss it by, like, 15 yards, it’s serious rough and you’ve got to hack it out. And if you miss it by 20 yards, you’re completely screwed. That’s how golf should be. Too many golf courses, you miss the fairway by, like, two yards, and you’ve got no shot, and you’re playing with guys that have missed it by 40, and they’ve got a shot. At Brookline, they nailed it.

DD: What do you do when you’re not playing or strategizing for golf? Is there any time left in your life?

MF: Not much. But when it’s not golf, I just like to do nothing. I’m a big football [translation: soccer] fan, and I watch my team when I can. You got Netflix and all that sort of stuff. I watch plenty of that, but, on the whole, I’m relaxing and trying to rest.

DD: You’re a Netflix star yourself, having been featured in the Full Swingseries. What’d you think of your appearance?

MF: I thought it was great. I did an interview at the end of 2021 and I thought it went fine, but I wasn’t sure if I was going to stand out. But they decided to go with me, and I thought they did a really great job.

DD: Have you been recognized more?

MF: Yeah, a few more people have noticed me out and about, which is a little bit strange, but I suppose that’s all part of it. It makes me feel for Tiger. He can’t go anywhere without being mobbed, and I’m sure that’s probably why he doesn’t really go many places.

DD: What percentage of Tiger’s fame have you reached?

MF: Oh, not 0.1 percent. [Laughing] You ask anyone who Tiger Woods is, they all know. Me? [Shrugs.]

Source: Golf