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Golf nerd Matt Fitzpatrick is already getting phone calls from the greatest golfer in Jack Nicklaus

Russell Fitzpatrick spent his working life providing advice as a bank manager, but on this occasion in 2013, he was the one who sought advice. “Tell me your honest opinion,” he asked me, his eyes begging for a parent’s love. “Do you think my son Matt is good enough to make it?”

Anyone who spends their time with the professional game knows that it is an impossible question to answer. Golf is sometimes so hard and so cruel because good people are eaten and spat out all the time. Only a few come from wealthy backgrounds.

So if their posterity makes it, you think, thank the Lord for that. When they get rich and famous without losing their heads, tell yourself, good on them.

The joy was limitless when Englishman Matt Fitzpatrick won the US Open on Sunday

The joy was limitless when Englishman Matt Fitzpatrick won the US Open on Sunday

Matt celebrated with dad Russell (left), brother Alex (second from left) and mom Sue (right)

Matt celebrated with dad Russell (left), brother Alex (second from left) and mom Sue (right)

When they reach the mountaintop and win the US Open, as Matt did on Sunday, no wonder the joy was limitless, and not just on the 18th green for the close-knit family of four. Fitzpatrick’s win on Sunday was simply as good as golf gets.

Who better than Jack Nicklaus to sum it up? The Golden Bear doesn’t watch much golf these days, but he was nailed down like the rest of us when the Englishman delivered the shot of his life at the end of arguably the best round a British golfer has ever played – at least tee to green .

“That was one of the most exciting final rounds I’ve ever seen and Matt’s shot on the 18th was one of the greatest pressure iron shots I’ve ever seen,” said the best golfer of all.

You could see what it meant for Fitzpatrick when he took the call from the 18-time major champion, the only other to win the US Open and US Amateur at the same venue (Jack did it at Pebble Beach).

Jack Nicklaus was riveted like the rest of us when the Englishman delivered the picture of his life

Jack Nicklaus was riveted like the rest of us when the Englishman delivered the picture of his life

“Frankly, a call from him means the world,” said Fitzpatrick, only the third Englishman to win the US Open since 1924, after Tony Jacklin in 1970 and Justin Rose in 2013. Of what you’re trying to achieve.”

The late Peter Alliss used to say that Sir Nick Faldo’s last lap 67 at the Masters in 1996 when he was chasing Greg Norman was the best he’d seen. In years to come, Fitzpatrick’s will surely rank next to it.

Only three golfers in the past 30 years have hit 17 greens on the final round to win a major: Faldo in 1996, Brooks Koepka at the US Open in 2017, and now Fitzpatrick.

What made the latter’s performance stand out, even in this elite company, was its location. The original Country Club’s greens are very small, traditional targets, and very difficult to hit if you’re not in the middle of the fairway.

He said Fitzpatrick's shot on the 18th was one of the biggest pressurized iron shots ever

He said Fitzpatrick’s shot on the 18th was one of the biggest pressurized iron shots ever

The difficulty was compounded by the fact that Fitzpatrick was put under tremendous pressure from his first tee shot, and by the world’s No. 1 in Scottie Scheffler, plus the brilliant, engaging young American Will Zalatoris, his playing partner in the latter group. .

Still, Fitzpatrick defeated them both. Time and again, he didn’t even bother to see where his tee shot ended because he knew it was laser straight. It wasn’t until the 10th that an iron shot misfired badly enough to miss the target. It was an incredible exhibit to see.

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Sure, if you hit that many greens, you’re going to take quite a few putts, but Fitzpatrick took 35, an insane number for someone who puts as well as he does. In other words, the club that is usually the strongest in his bag was his weakest on this occasion. How encouraging is that for future British golf?

It comes just 21 months after he left the US Open in a state of complete despair. He thought he’d played well at Winged Foot, but he couldn’t beat the bomb and gouge technique of runaway winner, Bryson DeChambeau. “He’s making fun of the game,” Fitzpatrick whimpered.

Now look at them. DeChambeau looks like a great miracle. Fitzpatrick is already setting new goals. “I couldn’t be happier to win my first major, it’s a cliché I know, but it really is everything you dream of as a kid,” he said. “But six majors is the ultimate goal.”

Time and again, Fitzpatrick didn't even bother to see where his tee shot ended

Time and again, Fitzpatrick didn’t even bother to see where his tee shot ended

Six is, of course, the number Faldo won when he started his spree at the age of 30 after a courageous decision to hire David Leadbetter as coach, turning him from a proven winner of the European Tour into a major champion.

Fitzpatrick has a three-year lead after an equally brave decision to get more distance from the tee, and a move that is paying off. Everything we know about him tells us that this is just the beginning.

But what a start. Nine years after his US Amateur Championship win at Brookline, he and their three children lived with the same family in the same house owned by Will and Jennifer Fulton.

“We even stayed in the same bedrooms,” said Sue, Fitzpatrick’s mother. Like the Fultons, she is a strong believer in fate.

Fitzpatrick has set himself the goal of winning six majors, same as Sir Nick Faldo (right)

Fitzpatrick has set himself the goal of winning six majors, same as Sir Nick Faldo (right)

“Everyone in the household told Matt it was his time. But no golfer can rely on fate. Fitzpatrick was not leading up to his 2:45 p.m. start time.

“There’s just so much going on,” he said afterwards. “It’s so hard to win a major when there are only four. One minute you think you have hours to kill and the next it’s on top of you and you need to play well. It costs just that little bit extra.’

After going the extra mile, he hugged his mom and dad and younger brother Alex, who has just turned pro himself. He hugged Billy Foster, his caddy who was confused after finally winning his own first major after 40 years of trying.

Russell stood on the mountaintop, thinking about the long journey. “Even when he won the US Amateur here, there were no guarantees that he would make it,” he said.

“We see it all the time in professional golf.”

The win came nine years after his US Amateur Championship win at Brookline

The win came nine years after his US Amateur Championship win at Brookline

Not on this blessed day. Not for the little boy who has become arguably the most unlikely British golf hero of them all, and for whom this could be just the beginning.

There are many stories of Fitzpatrick’s dedication. “If you were with him for a week, you’d think he was crazy,” his father said. Matt has been throwing parties at his own home in Florida, where he went to bed first because he had to practice the next day.

When he finally made his way off the 18th green, with a police escort and the fans left behind, constantly shouting his name – ‘Fitzy! fitz! — Russell Fitzpatrick heaved a deep sigh.

They were ready to return to the Fultons and begin the celebrations. “We’ll make sure Matt celebrates tonight whether he likes it or not,” he said.

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