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Matt Fitzpatrick is a champion once again at the Country Club. The 27-year-old Englishman who triumphed nine years ago at this iconic venue when he claimed the U.S. Amateur, became just the 13th man and the first non-American to also add the U.S. Open Championship to his portfolio. The 27-year-old edged past world No. 1 Scottie Scheffler and Will Zalatoris by a single shot following an enthralling, roller coaster battle with the American duo in Brookline, Massachusetts.
In winning the 122nd edition of the championship on a chilly New England Sunday by one stroke over past U.S. Junior Amateur champions Will Zalatoris and Scottie Scheffler, Fitzpatrick joined World Golf Hall of Famer and 18-time major champion Jack Nicklaus as the only golfers to have won the USGA’s two oldest championships at the same venue. Nicklaus accomplished his feat at Pebble Beach Golf Links in 1961 and 1972.
Now 50 years later, Fitzpatrick put himself in rarified company.
“The feeling's out of this world,” said Fitzpatrick, who carded a final-round 68 for a 6-under total of 274. “It is so cliche, but it's stuff you dream of as a kid. I can retire a happy man tomorrow.
HOW MATT WON THE 3-WAY BATTLE
In a three-way battle at Brookline that came down to the wire, Fitzpatrick seized control with a great break and an even better shot on the 15th hole for a 2-shot swing. He was just as clutch from a fairway bunker on the 18th that set up par for a 2-under 68.
Victory was not secure until Will Zalatoris, who showed amazing fight back from every mistake, dropped to his knees when his 15-foot birdie putt on the 18th just slid by the left side of the cup. Zalatoris, who closed with a 69, was a runner-up in the second straight major; he lost in a playoff to Justin Thomas in the PGA Championship last month.
Masters champion Scottie Scheffler never recovered from back-to-back bogeys to start the back nine that cost him the lead. He had a 25-foot birdie chance on the 18th that just missed and left him 1 shot behind with a 67.
Fitzpatrick and Zalatoris were tied going to the 15th when the Englishman hit his tee shot so far right that it went into the gallery and found a decent lie on grass that was dead and trampled. Zalatoris missed by only a few yards and was buried in deep grass.
Fitzpatrick hit 5-iron from 220 yards to 18 feet below the hole. Zalatoris went into the front bunker, blasted out to 25 feet and made bogey. Fitzpatrick took a 2-shot lead when his birdie putt went into the cup with such perfect pace it didn't even touch the pin he leaves in the cup.
Zalatoris again bounced back, taking on a tough pin at the par-3 16th to 7 feet for birdie to cut the lead to a shot. Both missed 12-foot birdie chances on the 17th, and then Fitzpatrick missed a fairway at the wrong time, pulling it left into a bunker with a steep patch of rough right in front of him.
It looked like a playoff was eminent -- the previous three U.S. Opens at Brookline were all decided by a playoff -- and then Fitzpatrick fearlessly hit a fade with a 9-iron that carried the gaping bunker in front of the green and settled 18 feet away.
He narrowly missed and could only watch as Zalatoris missed his last chance. Fitzpatrick finished at 6-under 134.
RORY FINISHES T-5
McIlroy, from Northern Ireland, once again failed to end his eight-year drought without a major championship. He is now 0-for-29 in majors since winning the 2014 PGA Championship at Valhalla.
McIlroy, 33, was 4 under heading into the weekend at The Country Club but never got anything going on Saturday and Sunday, at least not until too late. He carded birdies on Nos. 14 and 15, but missed good chances at the final two holes.
WHAT THE CHAMPION RECEIVES
SOME INTERESTING TAKEAWAYS
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