Welcome to another edition of The Grind, where we feel inspired by Matt Fitzpatrick. As a 5-foot-10, 155-pound golf buddy (okay, I’ve gained a few pounds since my “peak”), watching him turn into a bomber has been incredible. And if he can do it, maybe, just maybe I can do it. To be clear, “do it” in my case doesn’t mean becoming one of the longest hitters on tour and winning a US Open, but simply hitting a golf ball distances I don’t have to be ashamed of. Anyway, there’s obviously a lot to talk about, so let’s do it.
Matt Fitzpatrick: The guy is more like FITZMAGIC at The Country Club, where he joined Jack Nicklaus (NBD) as the only other man to win both the US Amateur and US Open on the same course. (By the way, we’re buying that course too. Don’t wait another 34 years to get back there, USGA!) The guy even stayed with the same family that put him up for that Amateur nine years ago. And he couldn’t have looked more comfortable during a final round in which he hit an astonishing 17 greens in regulation, which included driving a par 4 and hitting a par 5 in two. Once again, this guy has turned into an absolute beast:
It was a great week for advanced stats, as well as for the guy who has been leading the PGA Tour in total strokes gained all season, not only winning his first tour title, but making it a major. And nothing was more impressive than the last green he hit from a fairway bunker on the 18th. With everything on the line, Fitz got in there quickly and took the shot of a lifetime from him. He no offense to Jordan Spieth (and others), but it would have taken him about 10 minutes to hit that.
Fitz, however, does things his way. Has a US Open champion ever jumped cross-handed? Or put with the flagpole inside? Or worn braces on his teeth? EITHER . . . SKECHERS? We joke, we joke, because they are crazy comfortable. But seriously, this guy will do anything to win, including keeping a detailed record of all his golf shots (even rounds with his friends) and working with a biomechanist’s The Stack System to increase swing speed. “All that hard work paid off,” Rory McIlroy told him as he walked off the 18th green. Damn, he did it. Go ahead, flex, Matt!
Will Zalatoris: Another major, another close call for my fellow Wake Forest Demon Deacon. It’s amazing that this guy plays and kicks to the best of his ability when the stakes are high. I’m still not sure how that birdie didn’t land on the 18th, but what another great performance from this 24-year-old.
And what class in defeat, even congratulating Fitzpatrick’s parents.
His time must be coming. On the other hand, we said the same thing for Rickie Fowler. Either way, Wake Nation should be proud of this young man. And if I ever raised a son to be a perennial maid of honor at a major championship, I’d want him to be like Will.
Billy Foster: The best moment of Fitzpatrick’s victory was seeing this lifelong caddy finally capture his first major. Look, I often say these loopers are overrated, but I still respect the hard work they put in, and Billy was way behind in winning one of these:
It’s funny because it was Billy who tried to play it cool when Fitzpatrick chipped in at the end of the PGA Championship last month. But he couldn’t hide how much this moment meant to him. And the hug from the boss of him younger than him, well, that’s the good thing.
The Rory McIlroy Drought: “Another top five at a major. I guess that doesn’t really mean anything. Poor boy, because, unfortunately, it’s not like that. Not when you win four majors as fast as McIlroy did, including two for eight ridiculous shots. But now the eighth he is best associated with is the eight-year drought he is mired in. This despite the fact that he played very well in all three majors this year and won everything he can win since his last big win at the 2014 PGA Championship. Like our Shane Ryan, I love Rory, but it might be time to break up with him. . .
LIV Golfers: This rogue team shot a proper LIV over the pair on Thursday and didn’t improve much from there. Only four PGA Tour dropouts made the cut with Dustin Johnson leading the way in T-24. The same Dustin Johnson who was routinely being outboxed by Matt Fitzpatrick in the first two rounds. hard scene. But the LIV gang will (probably) have a better chance next year thanks to their latest signing. . .
Brooks Koepka: This might be the least surprising LIV signing yet when you think about it. Koepka’s younger brother Chase was already part of the 48-man field in London a couple of weeks ago. And no one has been more blatant about not giving a shit about regular PGA Tour events than Koepka. What bothers me the most is his antagonistic press conference last week.
When all along I knew this was happening!
If you’re such a tough guy, just come out and say you’re leaving! Also, he made fun of Phil Mickelson earlier this year for being greedy. Talk about the pot calling the kettle black. He was always too cool for the PGA Tour anyway. Let’s see how that (tired) act plays out with LIV.
The PGA Tour stays in the Northeast for the Travelers Championship, also known as the one where Chris Berman plays in the pro-am. And if you follow the gang of him, you better back up, back up, back up, because that guy can really spray it around a golf course. As for real golfers, it’s an amazing course, not that we’re too surprised. Last year I did a podcast about how the Travelers do a great job of recruiting top talent. It will be harder to do that in the future thanks to Greg Norman and Co.
Tournament Random Fact: Harris English defeated Kramer Hickok in an epic eight hole sudden death playoff last year. But it wasn’t the first time players had gone deep into the night at this event. An additional seven holes were needed in both 1961 and 1962!
RANDOM BETS OF THE WEEK
—There will be another eight-hole playoff this week: odds of 100 to 1
—Rory McIlroy will win this week: 9-to-1 odds (real odds)
—That stack system spin rate thing is going to run out: LOCK
So good. This space is basically “Max Homa’s Tweet of the Week”.
What a display of emotions. Golf! Sports!
Speaking of emotions, Grayson Murray threw a tantrum for the ages at The Country Club:
Poor Francis Ouimet must have been rolling in his grave.
THIS WEEK IN PUBLIC SHOW OF LOVE
Our very own Dan Rapaport, Fitz’s friend returning to Northwestern and someone who has written about their unusual player-writer dynamic, was caught on camera going a little crazy after Matt won. That’s him in the pink hoodie pushing and hugging Alex Fitzpatrick:
Normally, we’d say no applause from the press box, but we’ll let this slide, especially if Dan (who got some great stuff from the rather tame celebration on Sunday night) asks me out the next time they play. . Sure, it would be fun to play a US Open champion, but I’m more interested in asking Matt for some tips on swing speed.
THIS WEEK IN PUBLIC SHOWS
Congratulations to Paige Spiranac for being named Maxim’s “Sexiest Woman Alive”:
Long before that, it was The Grind who helped put her on the map. Proud of you Paige! Don’t forget about us little ones!
“The sentiment is out of this world. It’s a cliche, but it’s stuff you dream of as a child. Yes, to achieve that, I can retire a happy man tomorrow.” —Matt Fitzpatrick, who at 27 won’t be retiring anytime soon. Dude was probably working with The Stack System on Monday morning. What animal!
Nick Faldo announced that he will retire from “broadcasting full time” for CBS and the Golf Channel at the end of his contract in August. Trevor Immelman has been promoted to Senior Golf Analyst, aka Jim Nantz’s booth mate. Lucky Bastard. . . . Congratulations to Jennifer Kupcho for clinching her second tour title at the Meijer LPGA Classic. At least one Demon Deacon was able to win over the weekend. . . . Congratulations to former college phenom Norman Xiong for qualifying Monday at the Korn Ferry Tour’s Wichita Open and then winning by five shots! Still only 23 years old, beware of this guy whom Oregon coach Casey Martin called the best college player since Tiger Woods. . . . And finally, a special shout out to my daughter, Julia, for playing a pretty convincing Moana in her latest play:
Oh, and thanks to her (and mom) for making me this amazing cake for Father’s Day:
I think I actually had a better weekend than Matt Fitzpatrick.
RANDOM QUESTIONS TO WEIGHT
How many majors will Fitzpatrick/Zalatoris win?
Can You Increase Your Swing Speed Just By Watching Golf?
Did Jim Nantz even speak well of me?