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At U.S. Open, Matt Fitzpatrick Wins His First Major Tournament

BROOKLINE, Mass. — This yr’s U.S. Open started because the setting for an unprecedented showdown between golfers who had remained loyal to the established PGA Tour and a breakaway pack of ex-colleagues who lately joined the brand new, insurgent, Saudi-backed LIV Golf series. However the anticipated confrontation on the Nation Membership exterior Boston fizzled within the first spherical Thursday when golfers from each camps bought alongside with out friction.

The LIV Golf-aligned gamers additionally pale from competition early.

By Sunday, the continued cut up in males’s skilled golf was hardly settled, but it surely was overshadowed by a riveting final-round shootout amongst three of the game’s finest younger gamers: Matt Fitzpatrick, 27, of England, and the Individuals Will Zalatoris, 25, and Scottie Scheffler, 25.

In the long run, Fitzpatrick, who received the U.S. Beginner on the Nation Membership 9 years in the past, survived the crucible, successful his first main golf championship with a fourth-round 68 that made him six beneath par for the event.

Zalatoris and Scheffler have been one stroke again.

The pressure-filled fourth spherical got here all the way down to the final two holes with Fitzpatrick main by one stroke over Zalatoris, his enjoying associate. He held a two-stroke benefit over Scheffler, who had teed off two teams earlier than Fitzpatrick and Zalatoris, the third-round leaders.

However Scheffler birdied the seventeenth gap to get to 5 beneath par and tie Zalatoris, who like Fitzpatrick made par on the seventeenth gap.

It got here all the way down to the 444-yard, par-4 18th gap, a signature gap of the Nation Membership. Zalatoris drilled his tee shot onto the green and hit a second shot to inside 14 ft. Fitzpatrick yanked his tee shot left right into a yawning bunker, however from 156 yards he struck a crisp iron that bounded onto the inexperienced and stopped 17 ft from the opening.

Fitzpatrick then confidently two-putted for par. Zalatoris’s birdie putt to tie Fitzpatrick and arrange a playoff drifted lower than an inch to the left of the opening.

Whereas Saturday’s third spherical was performed in gusting winds that made the greens agency and quick — and produced solely seven rounds beneath par — Sunday’s circumstances have been benign compared. The Nation Membership is a fearsome course in any climate, however the forecast had been for cold temperatures and reasonably sturdy winds that presaged one other powerful day for one of the best golfers on the earth. As a substitute, the wind died down and cloud cowl made for a nice day within the 60s. Most of all, an in a single day storm dumped 1 / 4 inch of rain on the membership’s small greens, which slowed them down and made placing much less difficult.

In consequence, the sphere may very well be extra aggressive, particularly if a tee shot landed on the green. In some instances, nonetheless, it might need given the golfers false confidence as expensive errors have been nonetheless commonplace.

Zalatoris began the day tied for the lead with Fitzpatrick at 4 beneath par however faltered early when he three-putted from 67 ft under the second gap for a bogey. Then, on the following gap, he despatched his second shot right into a greenside bunker, which led to a second successive bogey. However Zalatoris hardly ever appeared rattled. He steadied himself with three consecutive pars and on the par-3, 158-yard sixth gap, he drilled his tee shot 2 ft from the flag for a simple birdie. Zalatoris’s method shot to the par-4 seventh inexperienced from 164 yards skipped onto the inexperienced and rolled simply an inch left of the opening. His tap-in birdie introduced him again to 4 beneath par for the spherical. When Zalatoris sank a 17-foot birdie putt on the ninth gap, he made the flip at 5 beneath par, only one stroke behind Fitzpatrick.

After a gradual par on the tenth gap, Zalatoris performed it good and secure on the downhill par-3 eleventh gap, which was enjoying simply 108 yards on Sunday (with a dastardly troublesome again left gap location). Zalatoris left his tee shot under the opening and rolled in an 18-foot putt for birdie to maneuver to 6 beneath par, which gave him the event lead on the time. However a missed fairway off the twelfth tee led to a layup wanting the inexperienced and finally a bogey.

After watching Zalatoris fall again to 5 beneath par, Fitzpatrick, who was tied for second place coming into the ultimate spherical of final month’s P.G.A. Championship, attacked. Standing over a 48-foot putt for birdie on the thirteenth gap, he rolled a snaking, left-to-right putt slowly however confidently into the opening to tie Zalatoris.

Like everybody on the high of the leaderboard on Sunday, Fitzpatrick’s spherical was uneven and unpredictable. He began sturdy with three pars and two birdies in his opening 5 holes. However his tee shot on the par-3 sixth gap was excessively lengthy, crusing 66 ft previous the opening, which led to a bogey. Fitzpatrick rallied with a snug birdie on the par-5 eighth however like many on Sunday he couldn’t maintain the optimistic momentum. He came across the tenth gap when a prolonged second shot was wanting the inexperienced and led to a different bogey. Then the tiny eleventh tormented Fitzpatrick as a 7-foot par putt skidded previous the opening for a second successive bogey.

Scheffler appeared to take a commanding lead within the event on Saturday with a glowing entrance 9, however then gave all of it again with a string of bogeys on the again 9. On Sunday, Scheffler carved up the entrance 9 once more, with 4 birdies in his first six holes. Scheffler’s method photographs to the small, devilish greens have been exact and his work on the artful placing surfaces was very good as three of his 4 early birdie putts have been transformed from exterior 12 ft.

However then Scheffler’s placing stroke abandoned him as he wanted three putts to get his ball within the gap from 38 ft on the tenth gap. Worse, on the diabolical eleventh gap, Scheffler’s par putt from 7 ft rimmed the opening and lipped out for a second successive three-putt bogey that dropped him to 4 beneath par for the event. Scheffler stayed within the battle although with 5 successive pars from the twelfth via the sixteenth holes.

Hideki Matsuyama posted the most effective early scores when he shot a five-under-par 65 with 5 birdies and no bogeys to complete the championship at three beneath par. Matsuyama wanted simply 25 putts in his remaining spherical.

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