Appropriating Talent

By Neil Connolly, in Golf · 18-12-2020 01:00:00 · 0 Comments

If you watched the thrilling finish of the Race to Dubai, you saw a player whose talent and performance has almost matched his potential.

The player being referred to is Matthew Fitzpatrick. A wonderful player with a stellar amateur career, now being matched by his professional career.

As an amateur he was world number one in the world amateur golf rankings, Winning the Boys Amateur Championship at Notts Golf Club in 2012 (more about that in a second), the following year he won the US Amateur Championship which gave him exemptions into the US Open, US Masters and Open Championship.

Currently aged 26, it now appears that he is ready to step up another level and contend in the majors. His rise has been as consistent as it is predictable. Never shy of hard work and with a self-depreciating manner, he is well liked and respected on the tour. Definitely a star in the making.

Meanwhile the other major story of the week, coming out to Dubai, was whether Patrick Reed was going to be the first American to win the Race to Dubai. All week it looked like it was going to happen but right at the last-minute Lee Westwood took the honours and a 3 million euro cheque to boot. You might not think that these two players have much in common with Fitzpatrick being 26 and Westwood being 47, however their past and their futures are very much intertwined.

Matt Fitzpatrick wins the 2020 DP World Tour Championship

Fitzpatrick comes from a golf course within the city limits of Sheffield and Westwood's course growing up was Worksop, not a million miles away from Sheffield but distinctly divided by the County lines of Yorkshire and Nottinghamshire. Only 23 miles separates the two clubs almost perfectly on an East to West line, but there is a lot of rivalry in between the two clubs or even the two counties.

When Fitzpatrick came across the County line to win the Boys Amateur Championship in 2012, a few of the locals will not have been happy that a Sheffield lad had just come onto their patch and taken home the silverware.

The rivalry between the two areas is this fierce as it is friendly, and this rivalry has produced some of the finest talent in Britain, with Danny Willett, Greg Owen, Oliver Wilson all coming from this area.

What is also interesting is that Fitzpatrick's caddy for the last two years is the infamous Billy Foster, who has had his longest stint caddying for Lee Westwood; the two were inseparable on the golf course and great friends off it. It wasn't entirely surprising when Lee Westwood enlisted the services of his fiancée as caddy on the golf course, that Billy Foster moved across naturally to Fitzpatrick's bag. As an aside, was that the shrewdest move ever made by Westwood, by keeping the caddie fee, normally 10 percent of the winning cheque, under the same roof? Smart Lad

Watching the events unfold on Sunday really had a humorous slant as some of my old playing buddies were having a jurisdictional argument as the players were walking the 18th. One of my friends mischievously commented that isn't it great to see two lads from Sheffield taking the two top spots in the Race to Dubai. Well the ensuing arguments cannot be word for word repeated but let’s just say the lads from Worksop or Nottinghamshire were nowhere near ready to take Fitzpatrick as their own. But they were wishing him the very best which is about all you can hope for!

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