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Everyone should be more like Alex Fitzpatrick…

NCG’s Matt Chivers spent some time with Alex Fitzpatrick in the Dominican Republic and it became clear why the Englishman has become so popular in the golf world…

 

As part of a small UK contingent that headed to the Corales Puntacana Championship this week, we wanted to know what time Alex Fitzpatrick was playing in the Wednesday Pro-Am.

Fitzpatrick is playing on the PGA Tour for just the fourth time in the Dominican Republic as he looks to forge a path of his own in the professional game and remove the label of ‘Matt’s younger brother’.

He went a long way to doing that by coming tied for 17th at his first-ever Open Championship last year and he endeared himself further to an audience wider than just die-hard golf fans by appearing more prominently in the second series of the Netflix show Full Swing in March, having also appeared in series one last February.

We arrived on the 10th tee box at Corales Golf Course a little before Fitzpatrick was due on the tee which allowed us to watch some of his PGA Tour counterparts strut their stuff.

One player who I won’t name, partly because I can’t remember his name, actually stepped up to take his tee shot before greeting his amateur playing partners who had just arrived from the par-3 9th hole.

The amateur players buggied their way to the forward tees to take their blows, so it transpired that everyone took their tee shots before being introduced.

How it works at many Pro-Ams held the day before tour events start is the amateurs play nine holes with one professional and nine holes with a new one. When it was time for Fitzpatrick to arrive on the windswept tee box, he was the first one there.

alex fitzpatrick

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I chatted to his caddie Connor Winstanley who coincidently grew up in the same school year in Wigan as one of my closest friends from university. “Small world ain’t it mate,” he said as we both chuckled.

He showed me Fitzpatrick’s yardage book and green notes. Connor had walked the course on Monday, examining every nook and cranny to prepare his Sheffield-born pal as well as possible for a rare PGA Tour start.

Connor seems the perfect partner to accompany Fitzpatrick in his pursuit of success in both America and Europe. They are outgoing, easy to talk to and extremely laid back for a duo that is about to embark on a big stretch in their season that will see them tackle Corales before heading to TPC Louisiana to play with Matt in the unique pairs format of the Zurich Classic of New Orleans.

When Fitzpatrick’s playing partners arrived at the tee box, buzzing and sun-kissed from their opening nine holes and ready to tackle the second half of the course, Fitzpatrick and Connor’s hats were off and their hands were out to shake.

They showed genuine enthusiasm and excitement to meet the people they were about to spend the next two hours with. There was no chance of missed introductions on this occasion, which contrasted the exchange, or lack of one, we had just witnessed before.

But besides one instance of pleasantries that I observed, it is clear why Netflix wanted to move Fitzpatrick’s role towards the centre of the stage in the second instalment of Full Swing after watching his brother win the 2022 US Open at Brookline in series one.

“It’s weird filming because you’ve got a camera following you quite a lot. I think the main thing for me coming out of that whole thing was just trying to be myself and hopefully, people saw me for who I am,” he said in the Caribbean on Wednesday.

“I was incredibly, surprised maybe not be the right word, but just the amount of support that I had over Instagram and just text messages from lots of different people. They loved the episode and thought I came across really nice, which was the main thing.

“But yeah, the support has been incredible. It was nice to get my face out there a little bit and have the opportunity to be on Netflix was pretty cool. Yeah, it was a cool experience and if they came back and asked me to do it again, I definitely would.”

He is so easy to root for and support. In the episode ‘In the Shadows’, we’re introduced to his girlfriend Rachel Kuehn who he caddied for at the Augusta National Women’s Amateur in recent weeks.

The images of Fitzpatrick and Rachel loving life and sharing the fairways at Champions Retreat Golf Course in Georgia were a treat, and reminiscent of the fun Full Swing episode.

alex fitzpatrick

ALSO: Our review of Netlfix’s Full Swing season two

Fitzpatrick, 25, spoke to the media on Wednesday after he was finished in the Pro-Am just after Nicolai Hojgaard had finished giving answers in Danish to the PGA Tour media team. He joined us in raptures of laughter when Hojgaard started responding in English, forgetting to give his final answer in Danish, and dropped an outrageous f-bomb.

“I think golf’s a fickle sport,” Fitzpatrick said when it was his turn to speak. “I think some days are good, and then you wake up the next morning and it’s not as good. I think the good thing right now for me is I have a plan moving forward with the parts of my game that I felt needed improving through my coach, Mark Blackburn.

“Had a blueprint out the past month or so which I think has been really helpful. So I feel like now I’m on a nice path if I keep moving forward, then hopefully I can be where I want to be.

“Again, I played India a couple of weeks ago and I didn’t play very well, managed to scramble through and then had a couple of bad holes and that was it really. Yeah, golf’s a funny one. Hopefully, this week would be better than a couple of weeks ago. Yeah, you can only control what I can do and hopefully play well.”

The fickle nature of golf was never more clear on 4 July 2023 when Fitzpatrick advanced through Final Open Qualifying at West Lancs three days after he came tied for 40th at the Le Vaudreuil Golf Challenge on the Challenge Tour, essentially the division below the DP World Tour.

His grown-up attitude and extremely personable and warm approach to life, while taking on a profession that demands so much in the most high-pressured situations, stuck with me after Wednesday.

Without blowing smoke up you know where, Fitzpatrick is comfortably up there with my favourite golfers, in the Tommy Fleetwood bracket for quality on the course and their down-to-earthness off it. Just a few moments of coolness in the humidity and the heat of the DR just reassured my outlook.

Everyone should be more like Alex Fitzpatrick.

NOW READ: Joel Dahmen: ‘Great things’ have come from starring on Netflix

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Can there be an Alex Fitzpatrick PGA Tour future? Tell us on X!

Matt Chivers

Matt Chivers

Now on the wrong side of 25, Matt has been playing golf since the age of 13 and was largely inspired to take up the game by countless family members who played golf during his childhood.

Matt is a member at Royal Cinque Ports in Deal playing off a 5 handicap, just a pitching wedge away from his hometown of Dover where he went to school and grew up. He has previously been a member at Etchinghill and Walmer and Kingsdown in Kent.

Having studied history at the University of Liverpool, Matt went on to pass his NCTJ Exams in Manchester a year later to fulfil his lifelong ambition of becoming a journalist. He picked up work experience along the way at places such as the Racing Post, the Independent, Sportsbeat and the Lancashire Evening Post.

Matt joined NCG in February 2023 and is the website’s main source of tour news, features and opinion. He has reported live from events such as The Open, the Ryder Cup and The Players Championship, having also interviewed and spent time with some of the biggest names in the sport.

Consuming tour golf on what is a 24/7 basis, you can come to Matt for informed views on the game and the latest updates on the PGA Tour, DP World Tour, LPGA Tour, Ladies European Tour and LIV Golf.

What’s in Matt’s bag: Cobra LTDx LS driver, Cobra LTDx 3-wood, TaylorMade P7MC irons, Ping Glide 4.0 wedges, Odyssey putter.

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