THE MODERATOR: Matthew Fitzpatrick joins us now at the 105th PGA Championship. Welcome to Oak Hill. You are playing in your eighth PGA Championship this week, and a win a few weeks ago for you at the RBC Heritage. How do you feel about your game coming into this week?
MATTHEW FITZPATRICK: Yeah, it’s in a decent spot. Felt obviously great after Heritage, and I’ve only played twice since. Played Zurich with my brother, which was obviously a lot of fun, then Wells Fargo two weeks ago. Wells Fargo I didn’t necessarily play my best, but I don’t particularly think that golf course suits my game, so I wasn’t too disappointed in how I finished. It was just kind of trying to get back to where I was from Harbour Town to see where my game is and see what I need to improve for this week.
- Q. Just take it back to last year, how much did this experience from last year set you up, your victory in the U.S. Open?
MATTHEW FITZPATRICK: I think probably a lot. A lot. I think that final round there was a lot of talk about me kind of playing a little bit too fast, looking a bit rushed. Obviously at the time you don’t see that, and I only really had like a week afterwards before I was playing the next run of tournaments, so I kind of didn’t get much time to reflect on it. But then I think when the time came Sunday of U.S. Open, you know, I felt like I knew exactly what to do. Just do the opposite of what I was doing at the U.S. PGA. I think I learned a lot from that.
- Q. When you were playing the 18th at the U.S. Open, did it cross your mind for a moment what happened to Mito at the 18th?
MATTHEW FITZPATRICK: Oh, no.
- Q. You blocked it out totally?
MATTHEW FITZPATRICK: You’re not thinking about that in the moment. You’re not thinking about that in the moment at all.
- Q. It wasn’t your best run or result in this tournament until Kiawah, really. You were up and then there was a late double or triple bogey, then last year. Is that a function of you growing as a player or some different setups that you’ve seen at PGAs?
MATTHEW FITZPATRICK: I think just different setups. It’s a mix of both. I think my first one was 16 at Baltrusrol. Nowhere near the player I was then. I was much shorter and stuff. So ’16 Baltrusrol. ’17 Quail Hollow, again, just a long beast for me at that point. Can’t remember ’18 or ’19, but I think a lot of the PGA setups tend to reward long drivers. I think it just tests your all-around game. I feel like the two that I did well, like you said, Kiawah and last year, was probably because I just think the golf course setup was a little bit more forgiving in a way. You’re in the Bermuda rough there. You could still get a decent lie or a flier, so you’re still getting it up by the green. This week six, seven times out of ten, you’re not going to get a good lie and you’re hacking it out. I think that takes a lot of people out of the running.
- Q. Having won one major, what’s the biggest thing you’ve taken from that that will help you to hopefully win more majors?
MATTHEW FITZPATRICK: I think just the confidence that I can do it, I think being the biggest thing. I think just obviously that week my game was the best it’s ever been. I also think that — well, statistically I didn’t even putt that well that week, so it’s kind of a case of if I can play the same way again and putt as well as I know I can, then that’s also another level that I can kind of add to my performance. So I think that’s kind of a big thing, as well, for myself that I feel like if I can kind of do that, I know I can contend and win.
- Q. Billy described your putting as, what was it in the locker room, Edward Scissorhands? Is that a bit harsh?
MATTHEW FITZPATRICK: It was a bit harsh, yeah. Sunday there was a few ropey putts, but the one on 13 and the one on 15 I think were just fine. I think he’ll be okay with those.
- Q. Billy was saying the other day on a podcast that the tougher the situation –
MATTHEW FITZPATRICK: He talks a lot, Billy, doesn’t he?
- Q. Tougher the situation, tougher the course. The more you excel it’s obviously going to be quite — it’s a tough course, and the conditions look like they’re going to be quite tricky. Does that make you feel more confident?
MATTHEW FITZPATRICK: I wouldn’t say necessarily confident. I think probably more comfortable. I think knowing what you’ve got to do out here this week, you’ve just got to play good golf. It’s just a brute of a golf course. It reminds me a lot of Winged Foot when we played just because you miss the fairways there, and it was just chipping out. From the holes that I’ve seen, there’s so many tough, tough golf holes where you have to hit just good shots. I think that’s the great thing about it is it’s a proper test. You know, you’ve got to play good golf. Whoever does win this week, in my opinion, will thoroughly deserve it.
- Q. Where does that comfort come from? Is that a Sheffield thing?
MATTHEW FITZPATRICK: Where does what?
- Q. The comfort.
MATTHEW FITZPATRICK: I think — I just think for me it’s a case of just grinding it out. I’ve said it multiple times; I hate it when tournaments are 25-, 30-under par to win. I don’t particularly feel like I play well in those. I just like it when it’s hard, and you’ve got to battle, and the par is a good score. I think that’s — I just enjoy it, for whatever reason.
- Q. Just another Billy one, the same podcast. He said that he gave you another robust talking to, I think it would have been prior to the Masters. He didn’t specify. Can you talk about the details of that?
MATTHEW FITZPATRICK: Yeah, it was nowhere near the level of the year before, and it wasn’t even — I don’t even know what he’s on about there. We’ve literally had — I think we had one discussion this year about, he just mentioned a thing — a couple of things in my game and the way I go about things. Literally, that was it. Last time he was tearing me a new one, but this time it was much more — yeah, it was fine.
- Q. Matt, when you were answering Dan’s question, it almost sounded like there were two different Matt Fitzpatricks, the one before they found the length and the one after. Is that how you look at it? And, if so, how much better is this Matt Fitzpatrick than the old one?
MATTHEW FITZPATRICK: Yeah, I think if I’m honest, I think there was probably a different one from 2019. I think that’s kind of where things changed. Billy was on the bag. I think that was a huge addition for me. His experience, you know, it gives me a lot of confidence. He tells me better than probably what I think I am, and also brings me back down to earth if I’m getting ahead of myself. I think Billy addition was huge. I think also the way I went about my practice. I just feel like I came — became even more professional from then in everything I did. Then, like you said, the addition of the length. Didn’t really get longer until end of 2020 really, but I still felt like 2019, I didn’t win that year, but I had a great, great season, played really well. So, yeah, there’s a huge difference in where my game is now compared to where it is then. I just think a lot of it is just growth kind of physically and mentally and understanding what you have to do well out here to compete. Yeah.
- Q. With that, your approaches to these events, meaning the four majors, is it totally different?
MATTHEW FITZPATRICK: No. I hope not. I think, again, probably before last year me and my coach, Mike Walker, had a good conversation about that he felt I was putting too much pressure on myself in majors, and he felt like when I turn up to a major, I was a different person. So I said to him at the start of ’22, if you feel like I’m changing, tell me. He didn’t need to. Obviously, I had my best major season to date. So I think for me I’ve just tried to be — do what I do every single week, have the same plan, and just try and be more patient and accept more bad results than good results because that’s the way golf is, you know, so…
- Q. There’s been just a few winners from Europe in this event. Do you think it has to do with the golf courses, with the setup?
MATTHEW FITZPATRICK: Yeah, I think it’s probably a bit of both, the golf course and the setup. Yeah, I just think it’s a tough test. I think you don’t really find many golf courses like this one, for example, in Europe, particularly ones set up like this. Playing on DP World Tour there are very few set up like this. This is one in a 52-week year normally, bar the U.S. Open, depending on the venue. Yeah, I wouldn’t say it’s easy for Europeans. I feel like the Americans probably are a bit more used to it playing at golf courses like this, set up like this.
- Q. On the other hand, they used to say the same thing about the U.S. Open, and a guy from England won it last year.
MATTHEW FITZPATRICK: Yeah, yeah. Again, same deal. I think the same deal. I think that one is a little bit different to this. I don’t feel like — again, purely depending on the venue because Winged Foot was longer and Hills was long, but I feel like the U.S. Open is kind of a bit of a different test. It normally gets firm and fast and tricky. I feel like U.S. PGAs tend to stay long and tough and brutal.
- Q. Before the Masters you had pretty low expectations given the sort of injury problems you had at the start of the year. How would you describe your expectations being different this week?
MATTHEW FITZPATRICK: Yeah, I probably would say I want to keep them the same. I want to keep them the same. I just think the important thing that I have found this year is, as cliche as it is, you are never as far away as you think, and you are also never as far away from playing bad again than you think. So I think that was the big thing is I was having not a great time at the start of the year and started getting really down on myself and disappointed when all I needed to do on paper was just keep doing what I was doing, work hard, try and get back to the level I was. Hopefully the results take care of itself. Obviously, it’s easier said than done, but I definitely feel like my expectations have been really good since before Augusta, kind of Austin time. Just trying to do more of that and just trying to stay level. Just being really patient. I think that’s what I felt like I did so well at Harbour Town.
- Q. Before the U.S. Open last year I wrote about you, and then you kindly obliged by winning. If I write about you this week now, will you please oblige again?
MATTHEW FITZPATRICK: I would be happy to, yeah (laughing).
- Q. Go on.
MATTHEW FITZPATRICK: Yeah, sure. I was wondering where the question was. I hope I play well. No, my game feels in good shape. I just think this golf course is going to be tough. Obviously the weather tomorrow is going to be pretty cold early on. I just think U.S. PGAs are difficult.
- Q. Would you mind finishing the sentence? The man who wins here has to… Would you mind finishing that for me?
MATTHEW FITZPATRICK: The man who wins here has to just play really, really good golf, yeah (laughing).
- Q. That’s true of every major.
MATTHEW FITZPATRICK: They have to do every facet of the game well. You know, you have to drive it well. You have to hit your irons well. You have to chip well, putt well. That’s what I feel like U.S. PGAs. You have to do every single thing well. You can’t get away with anything.
THE MODERATOR: Thanks, Matt. Appreciate your time.
Courtesy of: PGA of America, Oak Hill Country Club, ASAP Sports