It may seem unlikely, but quietly Yorkshire has been a hotbed of golfing talent for quite some time now.
Danny Willett, of Sheffield, has won numerous titles on the European Tour, and he secured his place in the folklore of the sport forever when he won The Masters back in 2016.
Lee Westwood, albeit from slightly further afield in Worksop, has won a staggering 27 titles on the PGA and European Tours.
He is one of the few players in history to win tournaments in four different decades, and he has finished as a runner-up in majors on three separate occasions. Even now, 25 years after turning pro, Westwood is ranked 46th in the Official World Golf Rankings.
Billy Foster showed his colours when he caddied at the recent Masters wearing his Leeds United shirt underneath his traditional Augusta overalls, and the player he was on the bag for – Matt Fitzpatrick – looks set to be the next Yorkshiremen to show his steel (pun intended) in the world of golf.
He is already priced at just 60/1 in the U.S. Open 2021 golf odds and around the same price for The Masters and the Open Championship, and that shows the upward trajectory in his game.
— Leeds United (@LUFC) March 10, 2019
Still only 26, the former Tapton School student has five European Tour titles to his name already, and he has already made the move semi-permanently to the United States to compete on the PGA Tour week in, week out. Over in the US, he remains one of the best value players to bet on, having posted six finishes in the each-way places since the start of 2019 alone.
The decision to uproot across the Atlantic should take Fitzpatrick’s game to the next level, and that could well mean contending in majors sooner rather than later. So can the Sheffield star follow in the footsteps of his hometown colleague Willett and land one of golf’s biggest prizes?
When the Going Gets Tough
The first sign that a player might have what it takes to go to the very top in golf is how they deal with the pressure of being in contention to win. On that front, Fitzpatrick has proven himself more than capable.
Two of his European Tour wins have come in a play-off – the ultimate test of mettle – while he has also triumphed in the DP World Tour Championship (part of the lucrative Race to Dubai finals series) and the British Masters at Woburn by one and two strokes respectively.
Calm under pressure? The 26-year-old ticks that box emphatically.
Another improvement that Fitzpatrick has made has come on the tee. Standing 5ft 10in, the Sheffield ace is a very slight 11st in weight, and in the modern game, he is a noticeably waif-like figure when comparing the beefy stature of a Bryson DeChambeau or a Brooks Koepka.
— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) April 23, 2020
Fitzpatrick remains a pretty short hitter at around the 295-yard mark, and he was quick to denounce DeChambeau after the beefcake powered his way to victory at the US Open. “It doesn’t matter if I play my best; he’s going to be 50 yards in front of me off the tee. The only thing I can compete with him is putting. Which is just ridiculous,” said Fitzpatrick.
A lack of length may preclude him at layouts like Augusta National, where long hitting is an advantage, but in other events where precision is key – typically the US Open, the 2020 edition apart – the 26-year-old should come into his own.
As he develops and matures into a seasoned pro on the PGA Tour, keep an eye out for Fitzpatrick’s results. Here’s a Yorkshireman who has the game and the belief to win a major within the next couple of years.