|-6 M Fitzpatrick (Eng); -5 W Zalatoris (US), S Scheffler (US); -3 H Matsuyama (Jpn); -2 C Morikawa (US). R McIlroy (NI)|
|Selected others: +1 J Rahm (Spa); +2 X Schauffele (US); +4 D Johnson (US); +7 J Thomas (US), J Rose (Eng), J Spieth (US); +12 B Koepka (US); +13 B DeChambeau (US)|
England’s Matt Fitzpatrick was swamped by his family after superbly holding off the world’s best players to claim his first major title with a one-shot victory in the US Open at Brookline.
The 27-year-old was also hugged by Rory McIlroy on the 18th green as he became just the third Englishman in 52 years to win the sport’s second oldest major.
Fitzpatrick shot a two-under 68 for a six-under total to beat world number one Scottie Scheffler (67) and Will Zalatoris (69) in a gripping battle that went to the final hole.
“It’s what you grow up dreaming of,” said Fitzpatrick. “It’s something I’ve worked so hard for for such a long time. I’ve got to give myself credit: I had so much patience.”
His win will be remembered for the stunning shot he played from a fairway bunker on the 18th.
In scenes reminiscent of Sandy Lyle’s final-hole bunker shot on his way to winning the 1988 Masters at Augusta National, Fitzpatrick launched a high cut at the green, the ball landing 20 feet beyond the flag and spinning a couple of feet closer.
A two-putt par was then enough to spark scenes of sheer jubilation as his mum, dad and brother embraced him on the green.
Sheffield-born Fitzpatrick, who also won the US Amateur title at Brookline back in 2013 joins Jack Nicklaus as the only two men to win both that and the US Open at the same venue – Nicklaus achieved the feat at Pebble Beach.
The 27-year-old is also the first non-American to win both titles.
And he joins 1970 champion Tony Jacklin and 2013 victor Justin Rose as modern-day English winners of the US Open.
Both Fitzpatrick and Zalatoris went close at last month’s US PGA Championship and despite neither of them having won on the PGA Tour before this week, they did not flinch during a titanic struggle on a tense final day.
Fitzpatrick holds his nerve on day of twists and turns
Masters champion Scheffler, defending champion Jon Rahm and world number three McIlroy were all within striking distance of joint overnight leaders Fitzpatrick and Zalatoris at the start of the final round in Massachusetts.
But while Rahm and McIlroy’s challenges faltered, Scheffler powered into the lead with four birdies in his first six holes as he looked to become just the sixth man to win the Masters and US Open in the same year, and only the second man after Tiger Woods to win this major while sitting top of the world rankings.
Fitzpatrick answered with birdies on the third and fifth holes while a nervy looking Zalatoris had two bogeys to slip four shots behind the leading duo.
However, two stunning irons shots led to successive birdies on the sixth and seventh holes to spark 25-year-old Zalatoris into life, and when Scheffler hit trouble around the turn and Fitzpatrick missed two short putts, all of a sudden it was Zalatoris who led by two.
A huge turning point came on the 13th though when Fitzpatrick holed a 48-foot birdie putt to tie Zalatoris, who made a clutch par save from 12 feet.
Scheffler was always lurking, but the final pair looked determined that one of them would become the 14th first-time major winner to lift the US Open trophy in the past 18 years – it was just a case of who would land that knockout blow.
On the 15th, Fitzpatrick moved two clear when he made a birdie and Zalatoris a bogey, but the American cut that advantage in half with a birdie on 17 after yet another laser of an iron shot.
More drama came on the final hole. Fitzpatrick hit his tee shot into a fairway bunker but the Englishman escaped brilliantly and although a two-putt par left Zalatoris needing a birdie to force a play-off, the Texan was unable to hole his effort.
You would not have bet against extra holes given all three previous US Opens held at Brookline have been decided by play-offs. But Zalatoris’ effort slid agonisingly wide and as he slumped to his knees, Fitzpatrick and his caddie Billy Foster embraced.
It was more major agony for Zalatoris though, who finished as runner-up for the second major in a row after losing to Justin Thomas in a play-off at the US PGA Championship.
‘I did not want a fairway bunker shot’
Fitzpatrick hit 17 of 18 green in regulation in a stunning display of control and consistency, but the shot he will be remembered for is his remarkable recovery shot from the bunker on 18, which ironically enough was just the shot he did not want to face.
“If there’s one shot I just did not want this year it’s a fairway bunker shot,” said Fitzpatrick. “When I saw it leave the sand I couldn’t be happier.”
Fitzpatrick and his family have stayed with the same American family in Boston that hosted him for his 2013 US Amateur victory – with the familiarity of the situation having a positive impact throughout the week.
“It’s meant the world,” Fitzpatrick added.
“I’ve obviously won here twice now. I’m trying to get every tour event round here. To stay with them this week has made it so much more relaxing. There’s no pressure and I’ve loved every minute of it.”
‘Another missed opportunity’ – McIlroy
While Rahm saw his challenge fizzle out with a final-round 74, it was another missed chance for McIlroy to add to his four major titles after an eight-year drought.
McIlroy could never find any consistency in his one-under-par 69, following all of his three front-nine birdies with bogeys, and just two late birdies pushing him up into a tied-fifth finish.
It is a 16th top-10 finish, eight of them top five, in the 29 majors McIlroy has played since winning his last one in 2014 – and although frustrated he is trying to remain positive.
“I’ll look back at this as another missed opportunity just as Southern Hills was, but missed opportunities are better than not contending at all, ” said McIlroy.
“So that is a positive. I have to stay patient at this point because if I just keep putting myself in position, sooner or later it’s going to be my day and I’m going to get one.”
A first major for veteran caddie Foster
Among the scenes of unbridled joy on the 18th green, Fitzpatrick’s veteran caddie Foster was arguably more emotional than his boss as he finally enjoyed a major victory after 40 years of carrying the bags of some of the sport’s biggest stars.
Foster has been on the bag of the likes of Seve Ballesteros, Lee Westwood and Darren Clarke and never won a major, and the usually stoic Yorkshireman was overcome with emotion.
“It’s unbelievably emotional,” Foster told Sky Sports. “I’m glad someone has got that giant monkey off my back
“It means a lot. Lee Westwood, Darren Clarke, Seve, they’ve had their chances over the years and (Thomas) Bjorn.
“I was caddying for him that day when he left it in the bunker at Sandwich [in 2003] and that really hurt. I thought about it for six months and it broke my heart. That has put a lot of bad memories to bed. It means everything.
“I knew he was good enough to win a major and this week he has played unbelievable and he’s not putted his best which is incredible really.”