In 2013, 14-year-old Alex Fitzpatrick led his older brother Matt to victory at the U.S. Amateur Championship in Brookline, a victory that secured the champion an exemption to the following year’s U.S. Open.
The rest is history: Matt Fizpatrick would return to the same place in 2022 to win the major, announcing his arrival as England’s top golf talent.
Now, the world No. 8 has the opportunity to return a favor to his younger brother.
On Thursday, the Fitzpatrick brothers will pair up at the Zurich Classic in New Orleans, a PGA Tour event in which 80 two-player teams will battle at TPC Louisiana for a share of the winner’s $2,398,000 prize pool.
The triumphant pair on Sunday will also receive a two-year exemption on the PGA Tour. While it’s not a motivation for the elite names in the field like Fitzpatrick, for his 24-year-old younger brother, ranked 705th in the world and forging her path on the Challenge Tour, it could be life-changing.
“That would be incredible for him, there’s no doubt about that,” Fitzpatrick told CNN Sport’s Don Riddell.
“We know what’s at stake and we know what the chances are if he does well and hopefully we can do it.”
A few months after Fitzpatrick’s dramatic US Open triumph, he found himself in the same field as his younger brother at the Italian Open in Rome.
After the second round, the younger Fitzpatrick led the major champion in average driving distance by 0.36 yards—a small gap, yes, but enough to warrant a text-message hit. The response, shared via Fitzpatrick’s Instagram, showed a screenshot of the US Open winner’s name at the top of the leaderboard, with his brother’s tied 18th position included, for good measure.
However, behind the cheap shots, it’s all brotherly love, and the pair fit well on the field despite the contrasting styles.
“Our games are pretty opposite,” Fitzpatrick’s father said. “I’m a good driver, he’s a good iron player. He’s a good short game and I’m a good putter.
“He wants to do the best he can, of course he does, but for me his path will probably be a little different than mine. The golf world is a lot different from when I started playing now, so he’ll probably focus on the Challenge Tour, he’s excited about that.
“Hopefully I can follow in my footsteps.”
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They will be some difficult steps to follow.
The triumph at the RBC Heritage on Sunday, sealed with a dramatic playoff victory over three-time Major champion Jordan Spieth, wrote the latest glorious chapter in what has been an exceptional few years for Fitzpatrick.
The fact that the victory came on Hilton Head, a long-time vacation destination for Sheffield’s family, made it even more special as the 28-year-old fulfilled his childhood dream of lifting silverware on the golf course. Harbor Town.
“At times like that, you wish time travel was real and you could go back and say, ‘This is what’s going to happen in a few years,’” he said.
“I would have been surprised, it was always one I wanted to win and it was very special to do so.”
And as if winning couldn’t have been sweeter, it came amid overwhelmingly one-sided crowd support for hometown hero Spieth, with chants of ‘US-A’ accompanying much of the playoff’s deciding holes.
Spieth gestured for fans to be quiet, but Fitzpatrick enjoyed his lead role as the villain.
“It was great… I definitely enjoyed being there,” he said.
“I wouldn’t say I’ve played in that atmosphere very often, but it’s certainly nice to perform under that pressure and I think that’s what made that mean so much too.”
Fitzpatrick hopes the crowd’s roles will be reversed when Italy hosts the Ryder Cup for the first time in September.
Rome’s Marco Simone Golf and Country Club will be the scene of what Team Europe hopes will be a decisive rebound after a resounding defeat at the hands of their American rivals at Whistling Straits in 2021.
Fitzpatrick, a member of that team and the equally defeated 2016 squad, has yet to win a singles match in the biennial tournament, but would land in Rome a much more accomplished player if selected.
“I’d really like to be one of the best players that week and play really well,” he said.
“I’m excited about that opportunity and I think the really important thing is to first make the team and then look forward to it, enjoy it and go out and try to earn some points for Europe.”
His other main goal for 2023 is to add another major to his trophy case, not an easy task with names of caliber pursuing the same goal.
A tied tenth finish at the Masters marked a good start to the season for the Englishman, who finished eight shots behind dominant winner Jon Rahm.
The Spaniard’s second major title cemented his reputation alongside Scottie Scheffler and Rory McIlroy in the so-called ‘big three’ at the top of the rankings. However, Fitzpatrick – known as the hardest-working golfer on the PGA Tour – has no intention of accepting his place on the food chain.
“I don’t want to just sit back and say, ‘Everyone is too good for me and I’m happy with where I am.’ That’s not me as a person,” Fitzpatrick said.
“I’m constantly looking for ways to get better and better, and that’s what’s really important: to keep pushing myself and try to catch up.”