Like most 21-year-olds with a few quid in their back pocket, Matt Fitzpatrick isn’t shy about showing off his new-found wealth. Well, when there are American college girls around, anyway.
‘Yeah, I try that one!’ he laughs. ‘And I’ll keep trying!’
Fitzpatrick dropped out of Chicago’s Northwestern University two years ago to get a head start on his professional golf career but the place retains a special place in his heart, as do the good friends he made in the States.
He returns there when time allows during a globetrotting playing schedule, no longer one of many kids dreaming of a sporting life but as the brightest rising star of English golf.
A maiden victory at the British Masters last October earned him £500,000 and catapulted him into the big time, giving him a place in next year’s Ryder Cup team as it stands and confirming what everyone knew since his victory at the US Amateur in 2013: this kid is something special.
But Fitzpatrick enjoys returning to Northwestern for a dose of normality — a chance to relive the student life he left behind for five-star hotels and luxurious golf resorts.
‘My friends are great because they’re like, “Ah, it’s Matt Fitz, the superstar golfer!”. But at the same time they just treat me like a regular person,’ he says.
Fitzpatrick chuckles at the stereo-typical image of student life — lazy days and alcohol-fuelled nights — and admits: ‘It’s all good now I’m 21! Now we can get up to a little more crazy stuff.’ But most of the time he spends with old college pals is actually pretty tame. ‘I watch them go and play their sports,’ he says. ‘We play a little golf. Just hang out.’
After a staggering 10 top-10 finishes during his maiden season, the European Tour has a real talent on its hands, but the bad news for new chief executive Keith Pelley is that Fitzpatrick already has stars and stripes in his eyes.
‘I want to get myself established in Europe and make sure I compete regularly over here first. But once I’m ready I’ll go. I love America and I’d love to live over there in the long run. I think the people are great, so positive and always happy.