Walker Cup pressure runs deep in Fitzpatrick family

(Richard Martin-Roberts/R&A/R&A via Getty Images)

Walker Cup pressure runs deep in Fitzpatrick family

Amateur

Walker Cup pressure runs deep in Fitzpatrick family

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HOYLAKE, England – Matthew Fitzpatrick knows all about pressure, but what he experienced at Royal Liverpool in the first singles session of the 47th Walker Cup was alien to him.

The 25-year-old Fitzpatrick won the 2013 U.S. Amateur Championship, earned three out of four points in the 2013 Walker Cup, he’s a five-time European Tour winner and played on the 2016 European Ryder Cup team. Those pressures were nothing compared to watching younger brother Alex grind out a two-hole win against world number one Cole Hammer to earn Great Britain & Ireland a valuable point in its bid to win back George Herbert Walker’s trophy.

“I was a little bit nervous, probably more nervous than playing myself,” Matthew Fitzpatrick admitted.

The elder Fitzpatrick sibling spent much of the day trying to get as far ahead of the crowd as possible and stay out of Alex’s way. He walked all 35 holes his younger brother played on day one. He was on the first tee at 8:30 a.m. local time to watch the Wake Forest sophomore team with Ireland’s Conor Purcell to defeat U.S. Amateur champion Andy Ogletree and U.S. Amateur runner-up John Augenstein 2&1 in the opening foursomes. He set out again at 1:45pm and watched every shot Alex played against Hammer.

It wasn’t easy.

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“I didn’t really want to get involved, he’s got all this way on his own,” Matthew Fitzpatrick said. “I’m pulling my hair out out there saying ‘why’s he hit that shot?’ But I’m not going to go drag him to the range and say ‘this is how you do it.’ Down the stretch he hit some great shots.”

Despite his baby-faced looks, Matthew Fitzpatrick has showed in his five and a half years on the European Tour he’s got a lot of hard bark on him. Alex is made of the same stuff.

“He’s always been – in your face isn’t the right word – but he’s not really sacred of anything,” Matthew Fitzpatrick said. “He’ll take anything on. It could be little kid against big kids and he’d shove them over.”

He shoved over the world number one, a match he relished.

“It’s a bit of pressure I must admit,” Alex Fitzpatrick said.

“I felt like I’ve been playing really well this week and felt up to the task, so I was pleased when I saw they put me out first and saw his name.

“I enjoy challenges and today was quite a big one to face but happy I succeeded. I’m pretty pumped.”

Sibling rivalry runs deep in the Fitzpatrick household, so deep Matthew can hear footsteps behind him in the battle to be Fitzpatrick number one.

“He’s never beaten me,” Matthew Fitzpatrick said, before adding: “He’s beaten me with (handicap) shots when he was 10 and I was 15, but that doesn’t count. I need to keep getting better because he’s playing well.”

Next up could be the Fitzpatrick Club Championship.

Look out Matthew, baby brother Alex is coming for you.

TV coverage

There is no live TV coverage of the 2019 Walker Cup, but there will be highlight shows at Golf Channel at 8 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday.

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