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Matt Fitzpatrick has opened up on why he and his younger brother Alex turned down “crazy sums” to join LIV Golf.
The newly-crowned US Open champion was an obvious target for the Saudi-backed series even before his Major win, given his seven victories on the DP World Tour, but his younger brother Alex was made a bumper offer even before he turned professional. However, Matt revealed the way he felt after coming close to winning the PGA Championship last month confirmed his belief that there’s more to the game of golf than money.
“The money they’re offering you opens your eyes a little bit and you’re taken aback,” said the 27-year-old Yorshireman. “Tiger made a quote about legacy and winning trophies and this proved that deep down that’s what I want to do. I finished fifth in a Major and I wasn’t disappointed that I lose out on x thousand more money, I was disappointed that I hadn’t won the tournament, that was what hurt the most, not losing the money. That’s why we all play, that’s certainly why I play because I want to win and I want to be the best, it’s just my competitive nature.”
Alex, who was at Brookline cheering on his older brother to US Open glory, only turned professional at the start of this month, having made his PGA Tour debut at the Valspar Championship, yet he was also given a seven figure offer from LIV Golf. Matt felt it was a lot tougher for his 23-year-old brother, just starting off in the game, to say no to such a lucrative deal, but is glad he did.
“I was pleased that he made the decision that he did,” revealed Matt. “It’s obviously much tougher for him than it is for me. He’s not set himself up and he’s still relying on me and my mum and dad to help him out and that’s a difficult position to be in particularly when you get offered these crazy sums in front of you.
“It certainly makes you think. Hopefully in the long run it’s the right decision. Obviously we won’t know for a few years until he gets himself settled but I believe he can easily be good enough to be out here and play regularly and play well and succeed, he’s just got to go out there and enjoy it.”
According to Matt, one of the keys to success for Alex and all those starting off in the professional ranks in length off the tee. Even though he doesn’t particularly think it’s a good thing, Matt has been forced into a ‘if you can’t beat them, join them’ attitude and has worked hard to increase his length off the tee to remain competitive with his rivals. While beefing up in the gym is obviously one way to increase length, Matt, known as a golfer who looks at every opportunity to gain small edges, has found other ways too.
“I haven’t just done a lot of stuff in the gym,” he said. “I’ve done a lot of stuff on Speed Stick as well, it’s called the Stack, so I’ve done a lot of that. That’s been a massive help, it’s given me a few more miles per hour swing speed and quite a few miles per hour ball speed as well which has been the big difference and definitely given me over the last two years probably 10 to 15 yards longer.
“Unfortunately I do feel like it’s the way the game is going. There’s less shot making now and there’s much more sort of hit it long and find it again. You saw it at the PGA Championship the course was lengthened to 7-something and it was silly, you’ve got tees crossing over greens and not all golf courses have that luxury to take the tees back that far so before you know it some golf course are going to be obsolete and that’s not really going to be ideal for the game. I don’t know what’s going to happen but I think that’s definitely the way the game is going, length is a big advantage so I’ve got to jump on that bandwagon.”
Matt’s extra length off the tee was one of the integral parts of his US Open success, but so was his shot-making, with Will Zalatoris, who finished one shot behind the Englishman, calling Fitzpatrick’s second shot on the 18th “incredible” as he secured the par needed for victory.
Fitzpatrick’s breakthrough Major win has seen him jump into the world’s top 10 for the first time. In the new rankings Fitzpatrick is up eight places to World No.10, while Rory McIlroy, who was waiting on the 18th green to congratulate his Ryder cup teammate, is back up to World No.2 after his tied-5th place finish.
Fitzpatrick puts his rise up the rankings down to consistency and making small improvements over the years. He said: “It’s just about trying to do the right things and be consistent with everything that I do really. I think that’s one thing that I think me and my team have done really well over the last two or three years, we’re really well organised with a plan and hence why I think I’ve been consistently inside the top 25.
“I’ve not necessarily made bug jumps up until this year, but I feel like it’s been top 25 the last three or four years, it’s nothing to be disappointed at. It’s about keep doing the same stuff and hopefully just gradually improve.”
Jeff graduated from Leeds University in Business Studies and Media in 1996 and did a post grad in journalism at Sheffield College in 1997. His first jobs were on Slam Dunk (basketball) and Football Monthly magazines, and he's worked for the Sunday Times, Press Association and ESPN. He has faced golfing greats Sam Torrance and Sergio Garcia, but on the poker felt rather than the golf course. Jeff's favourite course played is Sandy Lane in Barbados, which went far better than when he played Matfen Hall in Northumberland, where he crashed the buggy on the way to the 1st tee!
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