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August 18, 2013

Matthew Fitzpatrick


PETE KOWALSKI:  We'd like to welcome the 2013 United States amateur champion Matt Fitzpatrick, 4 & 3 winner over Oliver Goss of Australia here at The Country Club.  Matt, you've got something sitting next to you which is probably, I'm sure, something you're very proud of.  Tell us about your emotional reaction right now that you're the United States Amateur champion.
MATT FITZPATRICK:  Certainly happy, that's for sure, yeah.  Very, very happy.  Really pleased with the way I played.  Hung in there when I needed to and sort of pulled it out when I needed to.
Yeah, just couldn't be‑‑ just if anything, really happy for my family, as they've put so much time and effort into me, and just something like this is really quite rewarding for them, I guess, as well.

Q.  You said earlier this week that the Open Championship, the Silver Medal winning for you was by a mile the best thing that's happened to you in your golf career.  Now you've got the U.S.Amateur trophy and all that goes with it.  How do you compare those?
MATT FITZPATRICK:  It's such a tough one.  I probably would say that they're pretty equal.  I think the thing with the Silver Medal is there's so few about, and there's not one every year.  I think someone told me there's only 44 that have been won to this day, so you never know, it might never be won again.  So to be sort of one of those is very special.
And this is incredibly special, and the thing about this is there's some amazing names on it, and the first name I see is obviously Mr.Woods.  This is, I'd probably say, a joint part, yeah.

Q.  A year ago at this time would you have been able to do this?  The player that you are today compared to say a year ago, how and why are you so much better now than you were then?
MATT FITZPATRICK:  That's a tough one because a year to the day tomorrow is when I won the British Boys, which is quite strange.  I mean, compare it to last year, the course is a lot harder here.  There's no doubt about that.  But that day, that's almost the best golf I've ever played, I think.  I just didn't really miss a shot that day.
But I'd probably say this week what's come out most is that my short game has just been really, really top drawer.  I'd say my weakest part of my game was into the greens, and really sort of over the past three years my strongest part of my game has always been good off the tee, and I hit quite a lot of greens in regulation.  But it's always harder to come to a course that's 7,300, as well, and I'm not the longest hitter, and hitting 3‑irons in it's harder to hit the greens, especially into those since they're so small.  But I'd probably say this week that what's come out more than anything is I've just putted really well.  I wouldn't say I've done any more work than I normally would have planned.  I wasn't sort of at the end of the year thinking, right, that's what I need to do most, ignore everything else.
So no, I'd probably say I am better, although I think my performance last year, the way I hit the ball, and obviously it is a harder course and it's difficult to say, but I felt like I played better last year is the big thing for me.  I felt I could move it both ways with clubs, whereas this week I maybe struggled to move it left to right a little bit.

Q.  Obviously you know the history of this place.  Englishmen have not fared tremendously well here going back to Ouimet beating Ted Ray, Harry Vardon and even in the '88 Open Curtis Strange beating Nick Faldo.  Is there any irony that you're the first one to break through and win a USGA championship here at The Country Club?
MATT FITZPATRICK:  Yeah, I think there is a little bit, like I said at the end, as well.  It's quite ironic that I had my brother on the bag, and it was sort of similar, I guess, to Ouimet and Lowery, really.  But yeah, it's just fantastic, and it's nice to be the first for a while, that's for sure.

Q.  I just have to ask because you've now qualified for the 2014 U.S. Open, 2014 Masters, the British Open for next year, and I saw earlier today someone named Lacy tweeted a marriage proposal to you.  Have you thought about the magnitude, about what this means for you and what it's going to be for you to have won this?
MATT FITZPATRICK:  Well, firstly, I'll have to turn the marriage proposal down.  I'm already taken I'm afraid.
I've just been told, as well, that I'll be playing with Phil Mickelson and Justin Rose at the British Open next year, which will be very nice.  Meeting Phil at the British Open was nice, and meeting Justin also will be just as good.
But yeah, there's no doubt about it, things are probably going to change.  They changed when I won the British Boys last year, but I was still at home then.  So to me I'm going to have to change anyway going to college, so I don't think it'll be too bad because it'll sort of‑‑ well, I would have thought the English media will be‑‑ it will be harder for them to chase me, I guess.
Yeah, I think things will change, no doubt about that.  But I think it will just be a bit less now.  Now I'm going to be over here anyway.

Q.  I'm looking at Steven Fox, who won this championship last year.  He played in nine events this year as a part of being a U.S.Amateur champion.  Are you prepared or have you thought about what kind of schedule, with trying to be a serious student and playing college golf, taking on the three you get but then being offered several other sponsor's exemptions?
MATT FITZPATRICK:  I wasn't thinking about that before, before today.  Obviously you never know what happens.  Things might change.  But I'm pretty sure dad's going to have me under control because I know full well that he doesn't‑‑ he certainly didn't want me to turn pro any time soon and wanted me to get an education first.  We've not even spoke anything about sponsorship deals or anything at all, so that's sort of out of the question for now, so we'll have to see what comes out.
But certainly with the schedule I'm going to have to be careful.  I didn't play that much this year really when I think about it.  But for me it will be basing myself around the three majors, that's for sure.  They'll be the most important things that I play in, I think.  And I'll just sort of try and plan my way around that and just see how it goes, really.

Q.  Have you picked your class schedule yet?
MATT FITZPATRICK:  I haven't, no.  I've picked my seminar, but I don't get to pick my classes until I'm there.

Q.  You're only the second Englishman to win this title and the first was in 1911.  Can you talk about the historical significance of that, as well?
MATT FITZPATRICK:  Yeah, I guess it's great to go down in history.  That's sort of what everyone wants in golf, wants to achieve, and I'm pretty sure Justin Rose said that after his U.S. Open that it's nice to go down in the history books.  Yeah, it's just fantastic, and I feel great at the minute.  It's hard to tell, really.  As daft as it sounds, I just feel pretty relaxed and sort of flat really, I guess.
I think I'll sleep well tonight anyway, but yeah, it's just great to be a part of history now.  Yeah, we'll take it from there.

Q.  When is your first day of classes at Northwestern?
MATT FITZPATRICK:  I think we start actual classes on the 16th of September, but I've got to report to school for the 9th.

Q.  Do you know anything about Harold Hilton?
MATT FITZPATRICK:  No.  All I would link is the Hilton Hotels, but that's it.

Q.  Were people calling you Francis Ouimet and your brother Eddie Lowery out there today?
MATT FITZPATRICK:  No, they weren't cheering anything like that, but I've heard a few comparisons.

Q.  Do you see much of a comparison there?
MATT FITZPATRICK:  Yeah, we're both really small, although my brother is almost bigger than me, so maybe I should be the caddie.
Yeah, I can see there's a sort of resemblance, I guess.

Q.  I talked to Mike Walker last night, and he said that over the last year or so that you've grown a little taller but not grown out.  What kind of regime do you do physical fitness wise, and how much do you think you have to do to kind of compete at the next level because obviously you know you're thin and not really bulked up.  I wonder how much you have to focus on that as you go along?
MATT FITZPATRICK:  If I'm honest, I would like to focus on that quite a lot, but the thing for me now, especially after this week, as well, I feel I've just got to be careful what I do because it's one of those, I don't know whether I need to be doing more to get bigger or whether I just sort of do a little bit and maybe get a little bit but not that much bigger and just sort of keep the same technique.  The thing about it, I don't really want to get too big or do stuff in the gym maybe that's going to sort of ruin my technique.
That's the big thing for me is I don't want to sort of lose what I have, so I've just got to be careful what I am actually doing, I think.  I think at Northwestern I will be seeing sort of the best guys that they have.  I'll look forward to that, as well.
I mean, I'll trust what Pat says with technique and stuff like that.  But I will always try and run it by Mike, and I'm sure Pat will run it by Mike because we've had this discussion, and Pete Cowan, as well, he said that I can trust Pat with what he says.
I certainly trust those two, and if they say that, then I know I can.  But I will run it past Mike, and if Mike doesn't think it's a good idea, then that's good enough for me.  I value their opinions like number one on my list in golf.  I will be careful what I'm doing, and hopefully I won't have to change too much.  I mean, I'm seeing him on Saturday, and he sent me a text what on earth do we work on.  It's going to be an interesting lesson, I think.
Yeah, I'll just have to see how it goes, really.  That's one thing I don't want to do is just get too big or start doing the wrong thing that affects my golf, really.

Q.  Two questions:  First, you mentioned that your life kind of changed after the British Boys last summer.  How specifically do you think it will change now in terms of expectations for yourself and what kind of player you think you can be?
MATT FITZPATRICK:  I think now there will be a lot of expectation on me from other people.  I'm pretty sure they'll be expecting me to win pretty much everything that I play in, and the fact is that you can't do that all the time because if I did that, I'd be on Tour already.
I think I will be under quite a bit of pressure when I start playing‑‑ well, when I play my next tournament and stuff like that.  I guess it will be fairly tough to handle, but I'll just try and sort of keep the attitude that I had, that I've come into this week.  It's not the end of the world if you don't do everything right.  I've already had some fairly nice achievements, so I'm certain there's no reason why I couldn't continue hopefully.

Q.  Have you ever had a seven‑day stretch where you putted better than this?
MATT FITZPATRICK:  Good question.  Not that I can think of.  I played solidly at the U.S. Open but didn't hole as many big ones as I did this week, actually.

Q.  Related to that, your putting was so on obviously the past few days and particularly today, how much of an advantage is that for you when you're playing, knowing that you kind of have that in your pocket, that things seem to be going well, that you've got a good feel for the greens, and did that allow you to relax when maybe you weren't hitting the ball tee to green as well as you have in the past?
MATT FITZPATRICK:  I wouldn't say it allowed me to relax.  I was, I guess, on edge; I knew Ollie could always hole a long one himself.  He hit a couple close early on in the morning, so there's no reason why he couldn't do that again.  It's nice to have that sort of as backup really, that I can hole a putt.
The thing for me is that I've noticed I putt better when I feel like I like the greens.  Playing at Lytham earlier this year, the greens were quite poor, and I just didn't get on with them and didn't putt very well there.  I quite like fast greens, and these were nice and small and very fast, as well, and lots of break.
I think it's certainly a positive for me that I putted so well this week, because for me it just showed that I can putt very well.

Q.  You talked a little bit about your possible schedule, but two and a half weeks is a pretty big competition coming up and I'm sure you're going to hear tomorrow that you're probably on the team.  Talk about your goal to make a Walker Cup team and what are your thoughts about playing a Walker Cup?  What would it mean to you to represent GB & I in the Walker Cup?
MATT FITZPATRICK:  It is pretty much the highest thing that you can do.  That's what I believe, anyway.  The history of that and just like this and the British Amateur, it's just a fantastic event.  I'm really looking forward to it, if I get picked, obviously.  Just the atmosphere I think will be incredible.  The atmosphere here was obviously amazing this week, and I really enjoy having a crowd sort of behind.
It's going to be good fun, I think, and having the support this week from the Americans might not be the same‑‑ might not be the same next time if I'm there.  We'll have to see about that.  But yeah, I'm looking forward to it, and if I do get picked, it will be a bit like Ryder Cup, and the same result, as well.

Q.  How did the greens change today and how did that change your approach?
MATT FITZPATRICK:  The greens were very similar all day, to be fair.  They did harden up as the day went on, but I mean, they were hard all day, and they were very fast, although this afternoon I thought they were a bit faster, maybe a fraction slower this afternoon.  But I had quite a lot of putts which broke a lot more than I think they would have compared to the first day, say.  They were fast on the first day, but they were super fast today.

Q.  You had five matches end at the 15th hole.  Did you feel like the most dominant golfer here all week?
MATT FITZPATRICK:  No, no.  I'm only small, so I really don't feel like I've got much presence, I guess.  But it was nice to win 4 & 3 again today.  It was sort of a strange thing.  I did have a feeling maybe I could close it out there, and it would be sort of ironic to have four 4 & 3s, I think.

Q.  Your parents and your brother were here, so I'm curious who your first phone call would be to.
MATT FITZPATRICK:  Well, I've texted my grandparents, but first phone call after this will be to girlfriend.

Q.  Almost every time, I'd have to look it up to be sure, but it seemed like almost every time he won a hole, you would come back on the next hole and win it.  Were you aware of that?
MATT FITZPATRICK:  I didn't even know that, no.  No, not at all.  No, that's quite strange that you said that.  I didn't think that at all, really.

Q.  When do you feel the match sort of turned in your favor?  It was all square after 19 and then you won the next two.
MATT FITZPATRICK:  Yeah, I got‑‑ when I got to 2‑up, I wouldn't say I sort of felt like I had control, but I felt that there was a bit of a buffer zone, I guess.  And if I could just carry on making pars, it's always hard to‑‑ it's so hard to make birdies out there, so just pars would hopefully win me holes.  And if I did stick it close, then I might be able to make a putt.  But I'd probably say‑‑ well, I think the big thing was, as daft as it sounds, on 14.  I think me getting up‑and‑down there and Ollie didn't get up‑and‑down, I think to go 3‑up was the big swing, I guess.  I know it was late in the match, but yeah.

Q.  You seem to play very quickly.  Is that something that you learned a while ago?
MATT FITZPATRICK:  No, I've noticed that I play very fast.  I did get penalized in the British Boys last year when I played out of turn, got told to play again, and then won the hole anyway, which was quite nice.  But yeah, I don't like to mess around, really.

Q.  And the second thing is you mentioned during the presentation that you had an idea what you might do for Alex for the win.  I know he's here.  He wasn't in here before I don't think, but can you give us any idea?
MATT FITZPATRICK:  Yeah, no, it's nothing‑‑ it's nothing that special to‑‑ I think it's fair to say it's special to him, but I'm going to try‑‑ I don't know whether I'll be able to get him just like a Tour Scotty (Cameron) putter from Titleist.  We'll just have to see.

Q.  You can buy your brother a replica trophy.
MATT FITZPATRICK:  Really?  I think he'll pass on that one.  I think he'd rather have the other one.
PETE KOWALSKI:  Matt, thank you for your cooperation all week.  Well played, and we look forward to seeing you down the line.

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