A playoff was looming Sunday in the U.S. Open, just like it always does at The Country Club, when Matt Fitzpatrick sized up his shot from a bunker left of the 18th fairway.
He had a one-shot lead over Will Zalatoris and Masters champion Scottie Scheffler. He had a big patch of rough-filled turf in front of him, along with a gaping bunker protecting the green and a flag 156 yards away. Nothing less than a U.S. Open title was on the line.
On a back nine filled with clutch moments, Fitzpatrick delivered the biggest of them all.
“One of the best shots I ever hit,” he said.
Fitzpatrick hit 9-iron that started around the steep lip — a “squeezy fade,” he called it — carried the front bunker and settled 18 feet away, setting up a par for a 2-under 68 that made the Englishman a major champion for his first professional win in America.
He won the U.S. Amateur at Brookline in 2013, making him only the second man to win a U.S. Amateur and U.S. Open on the same course. Jack Nicklaus, the name on the gold winner’s medal draped around his neck, turned the trick at Pebble Beach. Juli Inkster won the U.S. Women’s Amateur and U.S. Women’s Open at Prairie Dunes.