GOLF

US Open 2022 standings, winner: Matt Fitzpatrick breaks through for first major championship, PGA Tour victory

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The second-highest ranked golfer in the world without a PGA Tour win in his career finally won on a Sunday while simultaneously breaking into the top echelon of golf with his first major championship. Matt Fitzpatrick won the 2022 US Open at the Country Club in Brookline, Massachusetts, on Sunday with two birdies and no bogeys on the last seven holes to clinch the tournament at 6 under.

Fitzpatrick, 27, edged his 54-hole co-leader Will Zalatoris and 2022 Masters champion Scottie Scheffler by one stroke to lift the trophy.

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Having already won the 2013 US Amateur at Country Club, Fitzpatrick added to his USGA tally in spectacular fashion with victory at the 122nd US Open. In doing so, he joined Jack Nicklaus and Juli Inkster as the only players to win both championships at the same venue, cementing his place in the annals of golf history.

The No. 18 player in the Official World Golf Ranking, Fitzpatrick broke through on Sunday after what had already been a strong season in major championships. The Englishman had already finished T14 at the Masters in April and T5 at the PGA Championship last month.

Still, the road hadn’t been easy for Fitzpatrick so far, and his last round at the Country Club was a perfect synthesis of that. Whether he chooses to admit it or not, doubt must have crept in as he has missed opportunities to win events over the years.

A player who has always thrived due to his blend of accuracy and throwing prowess, Fitzpatrick entered 2022 as a completely retooled player. That was evident this week as the name of the game for Fitzpatrick was consistency. While others came out with particularly low rounds early in the tournament, he shot 2 under the first 36 holes with a par 70 on Friday before posting a second 68 on moving day to take the lead.

Fitzpatrick was up and down through the front nine on Sunday, and two bogeys to start the backstroke made it look like he was going to sit outside of a trophy presentation again.

A missed short on the par-4 10th was followed by an inexplicable three-putt on the par-3 11th short. A quick three-beat swing with Zalatoris breathing down his neck might have left Fitzpatrick reeling. A career filled with close calls could have added another, but instead of withering away, Fitzpatrick began to thrive.

An emphatic birdie on the par-4 13th gave Fitzpatrick back a share of the lead with Zalatoris at 5 under. Two holes later, after missing the fairway, Fitzpatrick hit one of the best iron shots of the day to set up a birdie on the long par-4 15th. With Zalatoris for bogey, Fitzpatrick scored his third and momentarily took a two-shot lead.

Although Zalatoris and Scheffler both shot within one after converting birdies on the stretch, Fitzpatrick never let go.

After trading pars with Zalatoris on the accessible 17th, Fitzpatrick went to the 72nd hole with a one-shot edge and made the one mistake you couldn’t make when he found the fairway bunker off the tee. He took it on the chin, after the error with a defining shot to the green that set up his US Open triumph. Fitzpatrick missed an 18-foot birdie putt to clinch the win, but Zalatoris missed a similar 14-foot putt by a hair as Fitzpatrick posted his third 68 of the tournament and his first PGA Tour victory.

“If there’s one shot I’ve struggled with this year that I just don’t want, it’s a fairway bunker shot,” Fitzpatrick said of his approach to the 72nd hole. “I suppose [caddie] Bowl [Foster] just took over. It’s one of the best shots I’ve ever made. When I saw him leave the sand and felt the blow, I couldn’t be happier.”

The US Open is often and rightly described as “the toughest event in golf”. Most believe it is because of the conditions. They certainly play a role, but the mental challenge posed by the USGA far exceeds them. Competing in the US Open is truly a roller coaster of emotions, and one small misstep can lead to an eventual downfall.

Fitzpatrick had his fair share of mistakes on Sunday, but he took the hits like a champ. In the process, he ditched the moniker he had carried for so long, silencing his doubters and reigning at the pinnacle of the sport with the national championship trophy.

“No words,” Fitzpatrick said after lifting the trophy. “It’s what you dream of growing up. It’s something I worked so hard for – for so long – it was a big monkey on my back trying to win. [in the United States]. That’s all everyone was talking about. To do it with a middle finger for my first win, there’s nothing better.”

Here’s the breakdown of the rest of the standings at the US Open 2022

T2. Will Zalatoris and Scottie Scheffler (-5): It’s an inch game after all, and when Zalatoris and Scheffler both narrowly missed birdie opportunities on the 72nd hole, Fitzpatrick became your US Open champion. It was a valiant effort from Zalatoris, who after bogeying on the par-4 15h added a birdie on the 16th and gave himself two more realistic opportunities. It wasn’t meant to be, but I wouldn’t be shocked if his first win – much like Fitzpatrick’s – comes at a major championship as he now has three second-place finishes in just nine appearances and tops 10 in the seven major tournaments he played over the weekend.

“Will is a really talented player. He’s strong mentally. That’s why he plays so well,” Scheffler said of his good friend. “It just so happens that in the last two majors he’s faced some big champions in Fitzy and Justin Thomas. It’s one of those deals where you keep knocking on the door and getting into position, and he will pull through. I’m sure he’ll win one when it’s all said and done.”

4. Hideki Matsuyama (-3): A 5-under 65, the lowest round of the day, pushed the former Masters champion into contention despite being an afterthought for most of the week. It was a strange year for Matsuyama as he battled injury, was disqualified and has now finished in the top five of a major championship. “Yeah, to be honest, I don’t feel like it was my 100 percent performance, but it gives me a lot of confidence,” Matsuyama said. “So, I’ll do my best, I’ll try to connect that momentum to my next game, and I’ll be ready for that.”

T5. Collin Morikawa and Rory McIlroy (-2): If you had told Morikawa earlier this week that he would have signed for three rounds in the ’60s, he would have taken it in a heartbeat. Unfortunately, a 77 in the third round – his worst score in a major championship – derailed his US Open aspirations. However, his play at the Country Club marked another strong finish in a major. In 11 major appearances, the 25-year-old has two wins, two top fives and another top 10 for good measure. He now sets his sights on St. Andrews for The Open Championship where he hopes to successfully defend his title.

“I don’t know if I found anything. I think it taught me that you just have to go play golf,” said Morikawa, who insisted his game was not what he wanted him to be for most of the championship. “This year has been so focused on trying to hit that cup and trying to be so perfect, and that’s who I am, but get out there and play. Things are going to be tough, the ball won’t won’t go exactly where you want, but just understand.”

McIlroy, meanwhile, was riding at the start of the weekend at 4 under, but a third-round 73 put him far enough behind the leaders that he needed to minimize his errors on Sunday to stand a chance. Instead, she shot the first 11 holes in 1, and two birdies on the stretch weren’t enough to put her in contention. Rory, who has been playing some of his best golf for years, is still chasing his first major championship since 2014.

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