Matt Fitzpatrick channels his Brookline history as he seeks first major title
Matt Fitzpatrick believes his previous success at Brookline gives him the edge over his rivals heading into the final round of the 122nd US Open.
Nine years after winning the US Amateur title at the same Massachusetts venue, Fitzpatrick shares the 54-hole lead with American Will Zalatoris, a shot ahead of defending champion Jon Rahm.
World number one Scottie Scheffler, Keegan Bradley and Adam Hadwin are two shots off the pace, with Rory McIlroy, Sam Burns and Joel Dahmen another stroke back and the last of just nine players in red figures.
“I certainly think it gives me an edge over the others,” Fitzpatrick said of his US Amateur win. “I genuinely do believe that. It’s a real positive moment in my career. It kind of kickstarted me.
“To come back here and play so well again, it kind of just gives me growing confidence round by round.”
Fitzpatrick also contested the fourth round of the US PGA from the final group at Southern Hills last month, a closing 73 meaning he missed out on the play-off between Zalatoris and Justin Thomas by two shots.
“I didn’t have my A-game that day and I felt like if I played anything like my A-game, B-game, whatever, I would have been in even better contention,” the 27-year-old said.
McIlroy’s chances of a fifth major title and first since 2014 looked to be disappearing when he played his first six holes in three over par, but a brilliant display of putting on the back nine kept the leaders in his sights.
“It’s been a long time since I won a major but I remember the feeling and I want that feeling again,” McIlroy said. “I am one great round of golf away from doing it and that’s all I have to focus on.”
McIlroy admitted he enjoyed a huge slice of luck in being allowed a free drop from a grandstand following a wild drive on the 18th, adding: “When I saw it up there, I was, like, oh, no.
“Then I saw the rules official standing beside it and she said ‘well, you can get relief if you think you can get your ball from where it is back around and in line with the pin’. I said ‘well, I can hit a draw pretty good, so, yeah, I think I can do that’.
“I still had to hit a pretty big draw around that tree, but it was a huge break. If that grandstand hadn’t have been there, I’m sort of just chipping out and five was probably the score I would have made.
“I felt like a couple of bad breaks on the front nine, so that break on 18 definitely made up for them.”
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