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Matt Fitzpatrick wins the US Open for the first time

At the cradle of American golf, Matt Fitzpatrick stepped forward last night and joined the select band of Englishmen to win the United States Open.

Cool under pressure and brilliant when he needed to be at the 18th, the 27-year-old from Sheffield joined none other than Jack Nicklaus in becoming just the second player in history to win the US Amateur and America’s national championship at the same venue.

And what a venue. The one where two British professionals lost a play-off in 1913. Where Sir Nick Faldo lost a play-off in 1988. 

All the hurt and disappointment melted away as Fitzpatrick beat Masters champion Scottie Scheffler and his fellow American Will Zalatoris in a thrilling shootout for the ages.

First, Emma Raducanu and now Fitzpatrick. It’s not been a bad nine months at the US Open for the boys and girls of summer, has it?

English golfer Matt Fitzpatrick sensationally won the first major of his career at the US Open

He was clearly delighted as he lifted the trophy (shown above) at Brookline on Sunday evening

He was clearly delighted as he lifted the trophy (shown above) at Brookline on Sunday evening

Fitzpatrick became just the third Englishman since 1924 to win this title, following Tony Jacklin in 1970 and Justin Rose in 2013.

By his side was veteran caddie Billy Foster. He’s caddied for Seve Ballesteros, Lee Westwood and Darren Clarke, but he’s waited decades to carry the bag for a major champion. No wonder he was in bits at the finish, as he kissed the flag at the 18th.

In 1913 it was Francis Ouimet who launched the American golf revolution with his shock win. Now it’s wee Matt claiming one for the Old World, in the heart of New England.

He did it with one of the great shots in British golf history at the 18th, a fearless blow from a fairway bunker to 20ft.

It was like Sandy Lyle at the Masters in 1988 all over again. What scenes as he and Zalatoris marched up the 18th fairway, two men who will be huge fixtures in the game for years to come. 

They smiled at each other as the crowd rose to acclaim them on to the green. 

Two putts from Fitzpatrick meant Zalatoris had a 15ft-birdie putt to tie. It slipped agonisingly by the edge and Fitzpatrick became surely the first man ever to win a major wearing braces.

Soon he was joined on the green by his mum Susan, his dad Russell and brother Alex, who turned pro earlier this month. The joy was unconfined as the tears flowed freely.

He is the first Englishman to win a major since Danny Willett — also from Sheffield — won the Masters six years ago. 

He finished a shot clear of Will Zalatoris (pictured above) after a titanic tussle between the pair

He finished a shot clear of Will Zalatoris (pictured above) after a titanic tussle between the pair

Fitzpatrick closed with a 68 for a six under total to beat the two Americans by a stroke as Zalatoris shot 69 and Scheffler a 67.

They came for Fitzpatrick from the start. Rory McIlroy birdied the first. Scheffler birdied the opening hole despite driving into a divot and then the second for good measure.

Two of the superstars had caught Fitzpatrick at the top of the leaderboard before he had even made it to the first tee. Clearly, this was going to be a stringent test of nerve from his opening drive.

In his first experience of what it was like at the USPGA Championship last month, he hooked his opening tee shot nervously, setting the tone for a day when he never really did himself justice.

Here he showed instantly the value of going through what it is like. The opening hole at the Country Club is no gimme and demands an accurate tee shot. Fitzpatrick dissected it perfectly, on his way to a stress-free par.

Up ahead, the Masters champion and world number one continued his relentless march.

He birdied the 4th and the 6th in a fabulous front nine competed in just 31 strokes. He was piling on the pressure. The New England crowd were in his corner all the way.

Fitzpatrick proved impervious. He loves this course like few others and continued to nail every stroke.

At the par-four 5th he showed the inestimable worth of his increased length off the tee, clearing a greenside bunker that had swallowed Scheffler’s ball earlier on and two-putting for an easy birdie. 

Scottie Scheffler (pictured) also ended up a shot adrift of Fitzpatrick on the leaderboard

Scottie Scheffler (pictured) also ended up a shot adrift of Fitzpatrick on the leaderboard

His only blemish came with a three-putt from distance at the 6th, but he then compensated with two more mighty blows on to the green at the 600-yard par-five 8th, and then another two-putt birdie.

It was a beautifully-played front nine and, when Scheffler made his first mistake at the 11th, he had the lead with nine holes to go.

Alongside Fitzpatrick, Zalatoris had begun shakily with a couple of early bogeys, and was four strokes behind his playing partner after just five holes.

A long putt at the 6th settled him down. There was another to birdie the 9th. Now he was alongside Scheffler and in the thick of the action.

What an extraordinary back nine. What a fabulous advertisement for the excitement of a major and the relentless demands that it makes of golfers.

When Zalatoris birdied the 11th and Fitzpatrick three-putted from 15ft to give the American a two-shot lead, you’d have thought that was it.

Back came Fitz. Over the first 12 holes he had needed no fewer than 25 putts, a calamitous total for someone with his prowess on the greens.

At the 13th, a touch of normal service and an extravagant punch of the air as he holed from 40ft. Fitzpatrick and Zalatoris were level once more, with Scheffler one behind. The momentum was with Fitzpatrick.

Nobody ever won a major without a touch of fortune. Fitzpatrick had a stroke of fortune at the 15th, where a wayward drive finished on a path for spectators rather than thick rough. 

Rory McIlroy left himself too much to do on the final day as he finished four shots adrift

Rory McIlroy left himself too much to do on the final day as he finished four shots adrift

How he took advantage, with a long iron that finished 15ft away. It was a shot to seize the moment. It left the sort of putt that champions make.

The birdie putt fell and suddenly, with Zalatoris taking a bogey, he was two shots ahead. Now it was all about nerve. Now it was time to show he was ready. He did that, all right.

With the wind easing considerably, and following some rain early on to take the fieriness from the layout, there was a chance to post an outstanding score.

Collin Morikawa showed all of the pride and craft of an Open Champion to bounce back from his third-round 77 with a 66 to reach the clubhouse on two under.

Last year’s Masters Champion, Hideki Matsuyama from Japan, went one better with a 65. The total was set at three under, but it proved too little, too late.

McIlroy could hardly have made a better start, rolling in that 20ft-putt for a three at the opening hole. The hope that the erratic nature of his play on Saturday was a one-round blip, however, didn’t last long.

So began a rollercoaster performance, where every gain was followed with a setback.

Like the world number two Jon Rahm, he would spend the afternoon on the periphery of contention, as two late birdies bumped him to a share of fifth place following a 69.

It is a fourth top ten in a row at the US Open, a third top ten of the season at the majors — but the eight-year drought for a win at a major goes on.