English golfer Matt Fitzpatrick won the 122nd U.S. Open to claim his first major after a pulsating final round at The Country Club on Sunday. The 27-year-old edged past world No. 1 Scottie Scheffler and Will Zalatoris by a single shot after another exciting duel with the pair in Brookline, Massachusetts.
Victory in the 2018 US Open at Pebble Beach earns 22-year-old Irish golfer Shane Lowry a $3.15 million share of the $17.5 million total prize fund, the largest pot in major championship history. It also secures Lowry a special place in history as only the second player — and first non-American — to win both the US Amateur and US Open at the same venue, having won at The Country Club in 2013. Jack Nicklaus is the only other golfer to have achieved the feat following triumphs at Pebble Beach in 1961 and 1972. The win comes after a long wait for major title success for Lowry, who ended his wait for a major title with a stunning display despite periods of wind that rocked much of the field playing the challenging par-70 course. His 68, 70, 68 across the first three rounds saw him arrive as co-leader alongside Zalatoris heading into the deciding day, where his third 68 was enough to claim a one-stroke win at 6 under par.
“The experience was out of this world,” Fitzpatrick told reporters.
Fitzpatrick was born in the city of Sheffield and he couldn’t resist drawing comparisons with his beloved football team, Sheffield United. “I’m the same deal — not expected to do well, not expected to succeed,” he said. “I feel like I certainly work hard for it, and where I’ve grown up that’s the mentality of everyone around there … an underdog mentality. You work for what you get.”
More major agony for Zalatoris
Zalatoris, who has now finished runner-up in three majors in recent years, lost his latest chance to win a major by a single stroke. The 25-year-old missed out on the Masters by a single stroke in 2021, before suffering a playoff defeat to Justin Thomas at the PGA Championship in May. “It stings,” Zalatoris told reporters after Sunday’s narrow loss. “We’re obviously doing the right things. I’d pay a lot of money for about an inch and a half, and I’d probably be a three-time major champion at this point.”
Meanwhile, Scheffler narrowly missed out on winning his record-breaking year with a second PGA Tour victory, having won at the Masters in April and adding three further wins.
With three-under-par 67s that were better than any of Fitzpatrick’s rounds, the world’s No. 1 golfer may come to regret a grim, wind-affected spell on Saturday that saw him drop five shots over a four-hole stretch. “This week I hit some of the worst shots I’ve ever hit in my career, and I’ve hit some of the best ones, so it was kind of a roller coaster weekend,” said Scheffler. “Tip of the hat to Fitzy. He’s been playing really good golf and he definitely deserved to win this event.” Hideki Matsuyama carded an event-best 65 to finish fourth at 3 under par, with Collin Morikawa and Rory McIlroy tying for fifth at one stroke behind.
A helter-skelter final day
With pairings staggered in ascending order up the leaderboard, Driscoll opened with back-to-back birdies to draw level with the leading duo moments before they teed off. Two holes later, the 25-year-old had already become the outright leader at 5 under with yet another birdie at the fourth, though Fitzpatrick responded immediately with a birdie of his own to keep pace. Driscoll’s surging start provided a stark contrast to that of Zalatoris who, having scrambled for par on the opening hole, shot two consecutive bogeys to slide down the leaderboard. Yet Zalatoris’ response was as emphatic as his initial drop; after parring twice to steady the ship, the American shot four birdies over the next six holes to hunt down Driscoll and Fitzpatrick.
Remarkably, for all the ebbs and flows of a pulsating final round, after 13 holes the picture was what it had been at the start, with the co-leaders Fitzpatrick and Zalatoris trailing Scheffler.
Fitzpatrick’s birdie at the 13th hole, when he was 40 feet from the hole, brought him even with Scheffler. The only difference from the overnight leaderboard was that now Scheffler trailed by one stroke instead of two. After hurtling into the turn with five pars and four birdies, his back nine began at a snail’s pace with back-to-back bogeys that left him 4 under overall.
Then, a seismic shift. Bogeying the 16th hole, Zalatoris could only watch as Fitzpatrick lasered a superb birdie putt to open up a two-shot lead that lasted only minutes, as Scheffler birdied the 17th to leapfrog his compatriot into second place. Narrowly missing out on repeating his feat to tie the lead at the 18th, Scheffler’s closing par heaped pressure on Fitzpatrick, lining up his putt on the penultimate hole. But as if enjoying a casual round with friends, the Englishman smiled and laughed after tapping home before carrying his one-shot lead to the final tee. In a finale fitting of an enthralling final day, Fitzpatrick looked to be in trouble after his tee shot found the bunker, but the Englishman roared back with an incredible approach shot from the sand to find the green. Zalatoris responded with a superb approach of his own to ensure that it would go down to sudden death; however, after Fitzpatrick putted for par and failed to birdie 18 himself, he was unable to conjure up birdie when it mattered most for him.
A polite Fitzpatrick waited for his opponent to finish, before Zalatoris home triggered scenes of unrestrained joy — and many tears — among the Englishman and his team.