Matt Fitzpatrick managing his Masters expectations after injury-hit season

US Open champion Matt Fitzpatrick admits his expectations of success in the Masters need to be low after an injury-hit start to the season.

Fitzpatrick began 2023 with a tie for seventh in the Sentry Tournament of Champions but then suffered a neck injury before his next event on the PGA Tour.

The 28-year-old duly missed the cut at Pebble Beach and also made early exits from his two most recent strokeplay events before failing to reach the knockout stages of the WGC-Dell Technologies Championship.

“Making a cut would be a good start probably,” Fitzpatrick joked when asked what his expectations were at Augusta National.

“That is something that I’ve kind of done a little bit of work on myself to try and kind of say, well, it’s early in the season. This is where I’m at with my game. My expectations have got to match that.

“My expectations in previous years, throughout my whole career, have been very high. I felt given the work that I put into my game, that’s where I want to be.

“I definitely feel better physically. I definitely feel better mentally. I feel like my game is kind of slowly getting there, but at the same time I’m still in, effectively, a rebuild phase of getting stronger and swinging it better.

“I think it’s kind of just trying to keep my expectations at the right level to match where I’m currently at with my game.”

Fitzpatrick admits the timing of the injury was hugely frustrating as he looked to build on his breakthrough major victory at Brookline last year, scene of his US Amateur win nine years earlier.

And the world number 15 also revealed how becoming a major champion meant he stopped getting such an easy ride from his sponsors.

“Obviously it changed my life massively,” he said.

“There’s more demand on my time now, whether it’s media – this is my first press conference at the Masters apart from when I was here as an amateur – and then also sponsors. They want to use the time.

“Before the US Open I had a lot of great sponsors and they had time with me in their contract that they could use and I never ended up doing it. They didn’t kind of want to follow up on it, which at the time for me was great.

“Now I fully understand it and it’s not an issue at all. It’s just trying to manage my time as best that I can, and that’s kind of been the biggest change.”