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FITZ FOR A KING

Matt Fitzpatrick WINS US Open ahead of Zalatoris & Scheffler in thrilling finale with dramatic round of 68 at Brookline

MATT FITZPATRICK claimed a thrilling US Open victory to become only the third English golfer to win a Major in the last 26 years, after a very different Battle of Brookline.

Fitzpatrick, 27, out-duelled world No 1 Scottie Scheffler and three time Major runner-up Will Zalatoris at the scene of the infamous 1999 Ryder Cup, as a final round 68 earned him a one-shot victory.

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Matt Fitzpatrick lifts the US Open trophy after a brilliant performanceCredit: Getty
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Matt Fitzpatrick won the US Open in a thrilling final round at BrooklineCredit: Getty
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Rory McIlroy embraced Fitzpatrick after his famous winCredit: Getty
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Will Zalatoris, who finished joint-second, had his head in his hands after a missed birdie on the 18th sealed the resultCredit: Getty

The Sheffield star was joined in an emotional celebration by two families - his own, and the one from Boston he stayed with when he won the US Amateur title at the same course in 2013.

That victory nine years ago means Brookline has much happier memories for Sheffield star Fitzy than most Europeans.

He now joins Jack Nicklaus as the only player to win the prestigious amateur title AND the US Open at the same course - Nicklaus completed the double at Pebble Beach exactly fifty years ago.

Fitzpatrick kept a tight rein on his emotions after his first Major victory - and his first win in  America after seven victories on the other side of the Atlantic.

But younger brother Alex and caddie Billy Foster, a fellow Yorkshireman, had to fight back tears, while mum Susan hugged Fitzpatrick and sobbed: "Oh God, I’m so proud of you."

Fitpatrick beamed: "It’s incredible. It’s the sort of thing you dream about as a kid, and now it’s real.

"For it to happen here just felt right."

Four-time Major champion Rory McIlroy waited around for the climax after finishing in a share of fifth, and was clearly delighted for his Ryder Cup team-mate.

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McIlroy yelled: "Get in there" as Fitzpatrick completed a remarkable par save from a fairway bunker to clinch his victory.

Foster had gone close to winning Majors with the likes of Seve Ballesteros, Lee Westwood, Darren Clarke, and Thomas Bjorn, and admitted breaking his own duck after so long made this win even more special.

Foster said: "Unbelievably emotional. It's 40 years caddying and I've had a gorilla on my back, never mind a monkey. 

"He played absolutely brilliant. It has put a lot of bad memories to bed.

"Happy Father's Day to my kids! We are going to have a right party when we get home."

Scheffler and Major Championship specialist Zalatoris had no answer as the player regarded as the finest putter in Europe simply kept finding the hole at the crucial times, to clinch a one shot victory at six under par.

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The Englishman completed a dream double after his US Amateur victory in 2013Credit: AP

His fifty footer for birdie at the 13th, followed by a twenty footer at the fearsome 527 yards 15th, were the key moments, along with a crucial par save from a fairway bunker at the last.

Fitzpatrick triumphed in front of the Boston family he stayed with in 2013, and his own family, including younger brother Alex who caddied for him nine years ago.

Alex led the celebrations as his big brother’s first win as a professional on US soil - after seven victories in Europe - also brought the 27 year old Sheffield golfer his first Major triumph.

Nicklaus won both at Pebble Beach, and putting his name in  the record books alongside the greatest player the game has seen is the icing on the cake for Fitzpatrick.

A course infamous as the setting for the Battle of Brookline at the 1999 Ryder Cup will now also be remembered for the Bottle of Brookline, as Fitzpatrick took everything Scheffler and Zalatoris could throw at him. 

It was a final round worthy of a great championship, with the lead constantly changing hands. But it always looked like Fitzpatrick was more composed - and confident - than his American opponents.

Scheffler famously questioned whether he could win the Masters in a breakfast heart-to-heart with his wife, before he pulled on the green jacket a couple of months ago.

There seemed to be plenty of self doubt here from  the world No1. Every time he hit the front he seemed to be looking anxiously over his shoulder, instead of trying to pull away.

Six under par was clearly nose bleed territory for Scheffler at Brookline. 

He got to that mark in outrageous fashion by holing a 106 yards wedge shot for an eagle at the eighth in  round three - only to drop five shots in a horror four hole run  from  the eleventh.

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Fitzpatrick and Zalatoris share a word at the end of playCredit: Getty

This time he showed all the class you expect from a world No1 with birdies at four of the first six holes to join Fitzpatrick at six under.

With Zalatoris bogeying two of the first three, the leaders were suddenly four clear of the pack, and it looked like it might develop into a two man race. 

Or it did, until Scheffler stumbled to back-to-back bogeys at ten and eleven, before missing a short birdie putt at the long 14th. 

Zalatoris and the man who denied him the Masters title last year, the fast-finishing Hideki Matsuyama, also had other ideas about leaving Fitzpatrick and Scheffler to slug it out.

Zalatoris recovered from that horror start with four bogeys in six holes from  the sixth 

That  was good enough to propel him into a two shot lead on the ever-changing leaderboard, as his English playing partner hit the skids with two three-putt bogeys.

Matsuyama set the clubhouse target at three under par after shooting the best round of the week, a stunning five under par 65. But it always looked like that equalled the best round of the week    

Jon Rahm’s chances of becoming only the third player to successfully defend the US Open title had evaporated before he even completed the front nine.

The world No 2 started off just one shot off the lead at three under par. 

But he bogeyed two of the easiest holes on the course - the 301 yards par four fifth and the par five eighth - and never looked like finding the birdies that would re-ignite his challenge.

The loud shout of ‘Not today Jon’ when he dropped another at the tenth would normally have provoked at least a glare from  the Spaniard. This time he merely nodded his head in agreement.

Rory McIlroy’s front nine was a lot more eventful. Say what you like about his eight year drought in the Majors, but there is rarely a dull moment when he is in the hunt.

With a three shot deficit to make up, he needed early birdies - and picked up three of them in the first six holes.

The problem was he followed every birdie with a bogey. And when a poor tee shot at the 108 yards 11th dropped him to one over for the round, it was another case of close, but still no cigar.

With the pressure off, McIlroy improved his position with birdies at 14 and 15, climbing into a share of fifth - where have we seen that before?

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