Matt Fitzpatrick wins 122nd US Open for first career major championship

For a guy who’s won seven times on the DP World Tour, Matt Fitzpatrick sure got an earful here in the United States.

Despite being a very accomplished player, contending often and playing in two Ryder Cups, Fitzpatrick frequently was asked about his lack of a victory on American soil. Well, those questions have come to an end.

On some of the country’s most sacred footing in the sport, the Englishman outdueled Will Zalatoris and Scottie Scheffler on a raw, overcast Sunday at The Country Club to win the 122nd U.S. Open.

After grabbing a share of the lead with a 50-foot birdie on the 13th and then gaining the lead with a 19-foot birdie on the 15th, Fitzpatrick’s bid from 18 feet on the final hole to win the championship — set up by a brilliant bunker shot from 155 yards — missed left. 

He was left to stand to stand off to the side of the green as Zalatoris lined up a birdie putt from 14 feet that would have forced a playoff. But Zalatoris’ effort missed by a hair and Fitzpatrick sunk into the embrace of his caddie, legendary Billy Foster.

"The feeling’s out of this world," Fitzpatrick said. "It is so cliché, but it’s stuff you dream of as a kid. To achieve it, I can retire a happy man tomorrow."

A few minutes after he had earned his biggest victory to date, he received a congratulatory call from Jack Nicklaus, who has become a frequent lunch companion at the Bear’s Club in Florida. Fitzpatrick, 27, who won the 2013 U.S. Amateur here on the course Francis Ouimet made famous in 1913 with his stunning upset over Ted Ray and Harry Vardon, joined the Golden Bear as the only two players to win the U.S. Amateur and U.S. Open on the same course. 

Nicklaus did so at Pebble Beach in 1961 and 1972. Juli Inkster is the only player to win the U.S. Women’s Amateur and U.S. Women’s Open on the same course (Prairie Dunes, 1980, 2002).

"Any time you’re sharing a record with Jack Nicklaus, it’s unbelievable," Fitzpatrick said. "So for me to have that as well is incredible. He called me up down there just at the presentation to congratulate me. Coming from someone like that, it means the world."

Fitzpatrick closed with a 2-under-par 68 to finish at 6 under. Zalatoris signed for a 69 and Scheffler a 67, as both wound up a 5 under. It was another heartbreaking ending for Zalatoris, who lost in a playoff to Justin Thomas in the PGA Championship last month. He remains winless on the PGA Tour but is as confident as he’s ever been that a victory is coming.

"I think this one probably is going to take a little bit more processing than (the PGA)," Zalatoris said. "Like I said, I’ve got no regrets. I thought I played great all week, especially getting off to the start that I did today.