EXCLUSIVE | US Amateur champ says he couldn’t resist the paid ranks
US AMATEUR champion Matt Fitzpatrick has told English Club Golfer that ‘lots of exciting opportunities’ prompted his decision to cut short his time at university in the USA and turn professional.
Fitzpatrick, 19, spent only one semester at Northwestern University in Chicago before returning home in January this year. He subsequently turned pro after winning the low amateur spoils in the US Open at Pinehurst, and finished tied for 29th on his debut at the Irish Open.
The Sheffield golfer’s decision to defect to the paid ranks caught many by surprise, particularly after he told this newspaper late last year of his intention to see his degree through to the end in case he proved to be, as his own dad put it at the time, ‘a flash in the pan’.
However, as much as he insists he was enjoying his time in the USA, Fitzpatrick, pictured left in action on the European Tour recently, felt the lure of professional golf had become too much to resist.
“I really enjoyed my time in the States and learned a lot from it,” he told us. “It was just that, with everything that has gone on since I won the US Amateur, I’ve had lots of exciting opportunities come my way and they were just too good to turn down.
“It just felt like the right time, really. I got to play in quite a few pro events as an amateur, including the Open, Masters and US Open, and I felt as though everything I’d learned there stood me in good stead.”
The former British Boys’ champion has got off to a good start in the pro game and insists he has no regrets about making the switch sooner than he’d originally intended.
“It has been great so far,” he acknowledged. “I’ve only played a few events but I’ve done okay and made some cuts so that’s been really good.”
Fitzpatrick also revealed that, unlike many who have gone before him, he has found the transition from amateur to professional relatively seamless.
He added: “To be honest, it hasn’t been that bad and, again, I think that’s where having had the experience of playing in some events as an amateur has been really invaluable.
“I’ve been able to draw on the things I’ve learnt and have come into it with a bit of an idea of the sort of things that you have to deal with. It’s been a reasonably easy transition, to be fair.
“Even things like big crowds don’t faze me too much. I played with Phil Mickelson for the first two rounds of the US Open and his crowds are always huge, but I really enjoyed that, to be honest. It was really special and, the way I see it, if you can cope with playing in front of those kinds of crowds, there’s not much you can’t cope with.”