GULLANE, Scotland (July 20, 2013) -- Matt Fitzpatrick started Open Championship week being stopped going onto the practice round by a security guard but he might well end it by becoming a member of an exclusive club that counts Jose-Maria Olazabal, Tiger Woods, Justin Rose and Rory McIlroy among its small group of members.
This morning the 18 year-old from Hallamshire Golf Club in Sheffield carded a two over par 73 to go into the final round on nine over par 222 and with a two shot lead over Royal North Devon’s Jimmy Mullen in the race to win the Silver Medal awarded to the leading amateur in The Open.
“It has been an incredible week,” said the reigning British Boys’ champion who later this summer starts a golf scholarship at Luke Donald’s alma mater at Northwestern University in Chicago.
“On Monday a security guard wasn’t going to let me on onto the range until I remembered I had a player’s badge but now I have started to hear people I don’t know shouting my name. It’s all a bit surreal.
“I think it hit home the other day when I walked passed Tiger Woods and then looked up and saw Padraig Harrington, Bubba Watson and Jason Dufner were also just a few feet away.
“That’s not the company I normally keep but it has been great fun and I’m going to enjoy every minute of it while it lasts.”
Fitzpatrick opened the Championship with a creditable two over par 73 but after finishing second round with a bogey and a double bogey for a 76 he was among the large group of golfers who thought they might have taken at least one shot too many.
“It was a long wait but my Dad is good at judging cuts and he said all along that 149 might get in,” he said. “I wasn’t sure I believed him so I was relieved more than anything else when we heard it was good enough.”
The English boy’s international has said all week that his key to scoring well was to get his rounds off to a good start and he was one under the card after nine holes before dropping shots at the 12th, 17th and 18th.
“I don’t like those closing holes,” he said. “But my target at the start of the week was to play all four rounds so anything else will be a bit of a bonus.”
Jimmy MullenMullen was the leading amateur after opening with a level par 71 but a 78 in the second round left him tied with Fitzpatrick and now he will go into the final round two shots behind his rival after a 75 that started well with birdies on the 447-yard par-4 1st and the 226-yard par-3 4th but became a bit more untidy thereafter.
“I’m very disappointed,” said the 19 year-old whose father, Hughie, hails from near Kilmarnock. “I hit it very bad off the tee all day and found the greens very difficult.
“I set very high standards for myself and today just wasn’t good enough,” he added. “At the start of the week it was my goal to finish in the top-10 and get (an automatic place) in next year’s Championship but I can forget about that now.
“But it has been a great experience and I’m sure I will learn from everything that’s happened.”