After he won the 2013 US Amateur at The Country Club in Brookline, becoming the first Englishman since 1911 to win the event, Matthew Fitzpatrick was asked about the possibility of passing up the scholarship he had accepted to Northwestern and turning professional instead.
“Obviously, you never know what happens. Things might change. But I’m pretty sure dad’s going to have me under control, because I know full well that he doesn’t want me to turn pro any time soon,” Fitzpatrick said last August.
Well, things have changed. Fitzpatrick played only one semester at Northwestern before leaving school, and announced this week he’ll make his professional debut at the Irish Open, one week after the US Open, for which he’s exempt based on his US Amateur win.
The decision doesn’t come as a shock, considering Fitzpatrick’s comments from last month at the Masters, where the 19-year-old missed the cut.
“I’ll see how this year goes. I’ve not really got any plans to turn pro soon. Could be this week, could be two weeks, could be three, could be after the [British] Open,” Fitzpatrick said then. “I’ve not got a specific plan. It could just come randomly and it might not be till next year. I’m mainly seeing how I play this year and how I could perform against these guys in particular.”
Fitzpatrick’s win at The Country Club earned him spots into the first three major championships, assuming he remained an amateur. The week after the Masters, Fitzpatrick tied for 23d at the RBC Heritage, his only made cut in three PGA Tour starts this year; he also missed the weekend at the Arnold Palmer Invitational.
By turning pro, Fitzpatrick will forfeit the exemption he had into this year’s British Open. He was low amateur last year at Muirfield, then came to Brookline a month later and won the US Amateur fairly easily. He was pushed past the 15th hole just once in his five 18-hole matches, then won the 36-hole championship match over Oliver Goss, 4 and 3. Fitzpatrick will be represented by Chubby Chandler, whose firm manages a number of successful professional golfers.
Earning his cardIf he’s not there already, Jon Curran is closing in on making enough money this year on the Web.com Tour to secure his playing card for the PGA Tour next season. Curran’s tie for third Sunday at the BMW Charity Pro-Am was good for $33,800, upping his 2014 tour total to $201,857. That puts the Hopkinton High School graduate fourth on the tour’s money list; the top 25 at season’s end receive PGA Tour cards. Even if he fails to earn another dime, Curran may have enough. A look at the money needed to finish 25th on the Web.com Tour the past 10 seasons:
Economic upswingAn economic impact study has found that golf in Massachusetts supported $2.7 billion of total economic activity in 2012. The study was prepared by SRI International and commissioned by a host of Bay State golf organizations. Other highlights: Golf was responsible for more than 25,000 jobs in Massachusetts, which generated $796.8 million in wage income. If you’d like to see the full report, visit www.massgolfeconomy.com . . . Jack Nicklaus is a Senate vote away from becoming the third golfer ever awarded the Congressional Gold Medal. The US House of Representatives on Tuesday overwhelmingly approved the vote in Nicklaus’s favor, by a 371-10 count. Byron Nelson (2006) and Arnold Palmer (2012) are the only golfers to receive the award . . . The title sponsor of the PGA Tour event hosted by Tiger Woods will award $1 million to a fan if a hole-in-one is made during the tournament at the par-3 10th hole at Congressional Country Club. The Quicken Loans National is June 26-29; fans can register for the promotion at www.pgatour.com/QuickenLoans. . . . Notah Begay, who suffered a heart attack April 24, will return to his broadcast duties at the men’s NCAA championships, which start next week in Prairie Dunes, Kan.