GULLANE, Scotland (July 21, 2013) -- 18 year-old Englishman, Matt Fitzpatrick, will leave Muirfield this evening with one of world amateur golf’s most prestigious prizes nestling securely in his pocket.
The Sheffield youngster carded a one over par 72 to win the Silver Medal awarded to the leading amateur at The Open Championship and in the process gain membership of an exclusive club that already includes the likes of Jose-Maria Olazabal, Tiger Woods, Justin Rose and Rory McIlroy.
Fitzpatrick started his final round with a two shot advantage over Devon’s Jimmy Mullen after opening rounds of 73, 76 and 73 and never looked likely to relinquish that advantage against the only other amateur to make the cut at this year’s Championship.
The reigning British Boy’s champion began the day by dropping a shot at the 377-yard par-4 3rd hole but got it back after a birdie on the 554-yard par-5 9th to go out in level par 36. Fitzpatrick was still level par when he dropped two shots at the 475-yard par-4 but he responded with a birdie on the 183-yard 16th and then claimed pars on the last two holes to finish four shots in front of Mullen on ten over par 294.
Fitzpatrick and Couples“It has been a great few days and something I will never forget,” said the youngster from Hallamshire Golf Club. “It’s not every day that I get to play with Fred Couples like I did today and it taught me a lot.
“He putts from everywhere. He must have holed two from off the green and that’s the difference. That’s not quite where I am at and it showed me what I need to do.”
Fitzpatrick will resist temptation to turn professional and instead is about to embark on a four year golf scholarship at Luke Donald’s alma mater at Northwestern University in Chicago.
He has the pro ranks in his sights but not until he completes his education.
“Going to university is a big thing,” he said. “Mum and Dad made sure education came first so I have something to fall back on if the golf doesn’t work out. Northwestern is a great academic school. It’s 19th in the world or something so that should hold me in good stead.”
In the meantime the new Silver Medallist will tee up the English Amateur Championship and several other leading amateur events.
“I’m going to have a few days off to let things settle down a bit and then it’s off to the English. It’s going to be a bit different with no spectators and I’ll have to keep my eyes on my own ball again because there won’t be any spotters.
“However, one thing I would say is that I can’t imagine an amateur event ever being played on a course as hard as the one we played this week. The fairways are just so narrow and the rough is ridiculously deep. It’s a lot different to what I’m used to.”
Mullen opened with a level par 71 on Thursday but then carded rounds of 78, 75 and 75 to finish on 18 over par 299.
“To be honest I’m very disappointed,” said the 19 year-old from Royal North Devon.
“I have played a lot of links golf on the amateur circuit this season so when I started with a 71I honestly thought I could play the tournament in somewhere around level par. But I’ve hit the ball all over the place for the last couple of days and you can’t do that on a course like this.
“It’s a shame but I’ve still had a brilliant experience and it’s something I will never forget,” he added. “The highlight was probably walking down the 18th today but the first tee experience on Thursday was brilliant as well.
“My plan now is to get back on the range on Tuesday to get ready for the English Amateur. It’s another big tournament so I want to do well in that. Once that’s over I’m not going to play much more competitive golf for the rest of the year. I’m going to head to the gym and get ready for next season.”
A large group of family and friends watched Mullen as he completed The Open with eight consecutive pars and then a bogey on the 470-yard closing hole. They included Harri Greenberry from Exeter Golf and Country Club who had preceded Fitzpatrick as British Boys’ title by winning the title at Burnham & Berrow in 2011.
“It was great of them to come all the way to support me,” he said. “It’s just a pity I couldn’t give them a little more to cheer about.”