In June, Matt Fitzpatrick’s life changed when he won the U.S. Open at the Country Club in Brookline, Mass., by one stroke over Will Zalatoris and Scottie Scheffler.
That’s what happens when a golfer breaks through to capture one of the sport’s four major tournaments. However, Fitzpatrick, who is from England, fares from here he will be forever known as a major champion.
Fitzpatrick, 28, who will play in this week’s BMW PGA Championship at the Wentworth Club in Surrey, England, spoke recently about his victory at the Open. The following conversation has been edited and condensed.
Did you hear from anyone after the Open victory that surprised you?
I’ve been really lucky. I’ve had quite a few messages from various people — one in particular, a text from Michael Jordan. I’m a member of his club down here in Florida; I do most of my practice there. To receive that was very special. I received a handwritten note from Ben Crenshaw. I really appreciate that as well.
What did Michael say in the text?
He just said, congratulations.
Has the Open victory made you alter your goals for the future or your perception of yourself?
I always felt like the work I put in was good enough to compete in a major. Whether it was good enough to win one, I was never sure because I had never given myself a chance up until the U.S. P.G.A. [Championship]. To win one backed it up that what I was doing is correct.
Have you been prepared for all the demands on you?
I was briefed, basically, as soon as I won by my manager, Ted Brady, and Mark Steinberg. I understand that. This is my ninth year as a pro. I know what it’s like to do media. Obviously, it’s just another level when you’re a major champion; there’s just more of it. I kind of knew what was to come.
Did your performance at the P.G.A. Championship go a long way toward having confidence down the stretch at Brookline?
I think so. Maybe I didn’t realize it right after, but certainly that week at the U.S. Open, I probably used some of that experience from the P.G.A.
A few years ago, you talked about how you were working on your approaches. All that work paid off, didn’t it?
I struggled out of fairway bunkers all year, but to hit that shot there [on the final hole] under the pressure and in the moment will obviously live with me forever. In general, my approach play this year, we changed my technique a little, and that’s really helped.
How does the Wentworth course suit your game?
I like the golf course. It’s demanding tee to green. I feel a strength of mine is off the tee. I love playing there, and having the atmosphere of a home crowd is also a big advantage in my opinion, too.
You’ve played well there but said you haven’t really challenged to win. Any particular reason?
I just feel the guys have played better than me. I never really got close enough, and the one year I did, I just had a bad Saturday. Didn’t drive it well and kind of lost my momentum from the first two rounds, and that was it.
You were critical of St. Andrews two months ago. Any regrets with what you said?
No, not really. I’m very picky when it comes to golf courses, the ones I like and don’t like. I’ve never played it that firm and fast, and maybe that emphasized my opinion on it more than anything. I feel like sometimes you can hit good shots at St. Andrews and not get rewarded. Sometimes you can hit bad shots and get away with it.
When you were a kid, did you dream you would be a major champion in your 20s?
I read various quotes from other major winners saying it wasn’t as good as what they thought it was going to feel like, and mine was the complete opposite. It was 10 million times better than I ever thought it would feel. For me, it’s the greatest feeling I’ve ever had.