Fitzpatrick showing no fear

US Amateur champion Matthew Fitzpatrick leaves innocent ways behind him today as he starts life in the professional ranks at Fota Island Resort.

Fitzpatrick showing no fear

The Englishman, fresh from emulating the legendary Bobby Jones by adding the low amateur title at the US Open to his similar status earned at The Open last summer, must transition very quickly from being the wide-eyed teenager paired with Phil Mickelson and Justin Rose at Pinehurst No.2 a week ago to the sink or swim waters of life on the European Tour.

The Irish Open represents the first of six invitations to Tour events he hopes will earn him enough money to secure his card and playing rights for next season, having walked away from a golf scholarship at Northwestern University in Chicago to pursue a professional career.

His US Amateur champion status had earned him starts at The Open, Masters and US Open and now he has to fend for himself but the 19-year-old from Sheffield is grateful for the opportunities afforded him.

“I think I’ve got to go in with the attitude that I’ve got to try and compete with these guys, rather than looking at the guys that I’m playing with and saying, ‘oh, wow, these guys are really good’,” Fitzpatrick said yesterday.

“I think it’s been great [playing alongside pros]. For me it was all about experience. Everyone’s told me you need to get the experience before you just dive straight into turning professional, and they have definitely been right.”

Fitzpatrick played a practice round with Rory McIlroy last week at Pinehurst and his experience at the majors has given him ample opportunity to pick the brains of some world-class pros ahead of his debut here at the Irish Open.

“I think the best advice, really, and I’ve always said it as an amateur, everyone just told me to just enjoy it. They said ‘don’t try and force it’. You can’t put pressure on yourself.

“I forget myself that I am only 19. Not trying to use that as an excuse, but I think it might not happen this year, might not happen for another two years, but could happen the third year.

“So I think I’ve just got to take my time and take it all in really and not force it.”

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Join us for a special evening of Cheltenham chat on Friday March 12 at 6.30pm with racing legend and Irish Examiner columnist Ruby Walsh, Irish Examiner racing correspondent Tommy Lyons, and former champion jockey and tv presenter Mick Fitzgerald, author of Better than Sex.


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