You can bet Matthew Fitzpatrick is making sure he keeps his credentials on him this week at Muirfield.
That’s because the 18-year-old amateur from England doesn’t necessarily have the appearance of the majority of the golfers in the field. He rarely wears a hat. He has just one logo on his Under Armour polo. And even if he stood on his tip toes, he still wouldn’t be 6 feet tall.
“I was going into the locker room and someone said, ‘Do you have any ID’ or whatever,” Fitzpatrick said. “And I had to show my badge, and he was like, ‘Oh, sorry.’
“It was a bit bad today.”
But evidenced by his performance through 17 holes Thursday in his first Open Championship, Fitzpatrick’s game does most of the talking for him.
Playing with Jordan Spieth and Russell Henley, Fitzpatrick birdied Nos. 2 and 5 en route to a bogey-free 2-under 34 on his front nine. He made the turn leading all the amateurs in the field, but bogeys at Nos. 10, 14 and 15 dropped him below par. He made his third birdie of the day at the par-3 17th before a double bogey at No. 18 put a sour taste in his mouth.
“I sort of got going on the front nine, got it to 2 under, and then just struggled a little bit on the back nine,” said Fitzpatrick, who is seven shots back of leader Zach Johnson but just two behind leading amateur Jimmy Mullen.
Fitzpatrick said afterwards he was “disappointed” with the way he finished his round, but insisted that he had a good time out on a tough Muirfield track.
“There’s a lot worse places to be,” said Fitzpatrick, who earned a spot in the Open via Local Final Qualifying. “I originally planned two weeks off. It would be sad at home watching it, but this is miles better.”
It also helped that he received loads of support from the crowd.
“They might just feel sorry for me,” a modest Fitzpatrick said. “But it’s great to have the support, and to look around and see familiar faces as well is always a good thing.”
Fitzpatrick will play at Northwestern this fall and has already drawn comparisons to former WIldcat Luke Donald, who shot 80 on Thursday. His playing credentials are quite impressive, too, with his biggest accomplishments including a victory at the 2012 British Boys Amateur.
Now he has a chance to achieve something on one of golf’s biggest stages.
Fitzpatrick may be an unknown on the major-championship level, but if he continues to hang around at Muirfield, he might not have to show his credentials so frequently.