HOYLAKE, England — Matt Fitzpatrick, contemporary off a nifty four-under 67, climbed up on prime of the platform to talk with the media on Saturday afternoon at Royal Liverpool.
Brian Harman was nonetheless method out in entrance, however Fitzpatrick, after a pair of 72s the primary two days, now sat at two below and was lastly again on observe. However so was Fitzpatrick’s brother, Alex, who teed off 9 teams behind him. Alex had a number of holes remaining, although.
“I noticed his identify pop up on the leaderboard, which is good to see,” Matt mentioned. “Yeah, wouldn’t thoughts if he completed two below. We’d be capable to sneak enjoying the final spherical collectively.”
Alex had different plans.
He completed the third spherical of his Open debut in a flurry, making birdies on 15, 17 and 18 to shoot 65 and get into the clubhouse at 4 below. When he completed, he was tied for fourth, behind solely Harman (9 below), Jon Rahm and Tommy Fleetwood, who had been each at six below.
“Tremendous particular spherical,” mentioned Alex. “I’m not accustomed to this atmosphere and the quantity of individuals out right here, however me and my caddie had a good time on the market and issues went our method, which was tremendous cool. Only a bit misplaced for phrases actually.”
Alex, because the world is discovering out — and one thing the Fitzpatrick household has recognized for fairly a while — has some recreation too. He’s come a good distance from caddying for Matt when the latter gained the 2013 U.S. Novice at The Nation Membership. And Alex was there at The Nation Membership once more final 12 months, watching, as Matt gained the U.S. Open for his first main championship.
In 2018, Alex made it to the quarterfinals of the U.S. Novice himself. He performed faculty golf at Wake Forest and was a member of two Walker Cup groups. He was fourth within the novice world rankings earlier than he determined to show skilled in 2022.
All week, Matt’s been peppered with questions on Alex, who needed to reply the identical ones about Matt after he turned professional.
“I completely get how it’s, and I’m positive for him rising up it was most likely very annoying,” Matt mentioned on Monday. “It’s exhausting for him to sort of have his personal id and have his personal recreation. Individuals sort of placing him into, oh, he’s obtained to be like his brother and stuff, when truly we’re polar opposites.”
Alex performed a handful of occasions on PGA Tour Canada in 2022, and he’s now a Problem Tour member, making begins on that tour and the DP World Tour. He missed the lower on the Valspar in 2022, and his solely different PGA Tour look got here in April, when he teamed up with Alex (who may choose his personal associate) to complete T19 on the Zurich Traditional. Alex certified for The Open by tying for fourth in a 36-hole qualifier at close by West Lancashire.
He opened with a 74 however shot 70 on Friday, not solely making the lower however tying Matt after older brother made a large number of the par-3 seventeenth on Friday and made triple.
They’ve had a big cheering part this week consisting of household, mates, girlfriends and locals. On Thursday and Friday that they had cut up tee occasions, so it was simple for household to comply with each. On Saturday, Alex teed off 95 minutes after Matt. Their dad and mom, Russ and Sue, adopted Alex early, went again and caught Matt’s begin and completed with Alex. Matt, enjoying in his eighth Open already, agreed that was a good suggestion.
Sitting at two over to begin the day, Alex birdied three holes on the entrance to show in three-under 32, then adopted a birdie with a bogey to start the again. He birdied the fifteenth by draining a 25-footer and did the identical on 17 — the opening his brother had been crucial of this week — with a putt from 27 ft. On 18, with the grandstand watching, he rolled in a 14-footer to shoot 65, the second-best spherical of the day behind solely Rahm’s 63.
And in case you are questioning, the reply is not any, there shall be no bragging rights on this household.
“No rivalry or something like that. We’re brothers on the finish of the day as a lot as we’re golfers,” Alex mentioned. “I root for him, he roots for me. We’re each supporting one another, and we each need what’s finest for one another.”
They haven’t performed in lots of tournaments collectively the previous a number of years, however Alex did beat Matt in final 12 months’s DP World Tour’s Estrella Damm N.A. Andalucía Masters, the place Alex tied for thirty seventh and Matt missed the lower because the defending champion.
However for Alex, there’s truly extra of a rivalry together with his girlfriend, Rachel Kuehn, who’s a senior on the Wake Forest ladies’s golf crew. She’s right here this week too, but additionally spending time training for the upcoming Evian Championship.
“Numerous chipping competitions, a lot of placing competitions,” Alex mentioned. “She claims she wins on a regular basis, however she is aware of the reality.”
Bunched on the leaderboard, the Fitzpatrick brothers tee off inside a number of pairings of one another on Sunday. The household may have extra work to do leaping backwards and forwards. That’s a very good factor.
“It doesn’t matter how tomorrow goes,” Alex mentioned. “Clearly I want to play properly, however on the finish of the day it’s been an incredible week, and reminiscences that I’ll all the time bear in mind. Being with my brother and my household and all that form of stuff, it’s been a brilliant cool week. I hope to do extra of those because the years go by.”