PETE KOWALSKI: We'd like to welcome Matt Fitzpatrick from England, a 2 & 1 winner over Corey Conners in the semifinals of the U.S. Amateur. You are now playing for the championship. Tell us about how you feel about that.
MATT FITZPATRICK: Very happy, as you can probably imagine. I'm very pleased with the achievement, really. It's just a nice feeling to have.
Q. Tough start, the bogey on 3, but then you rallied on the back nine, five birdies. Just talk about coming back from that early hole and then just battling back because the conditions on this course are such that if you gamble too much you're going to pay, so you have to kind of stay within yourself, but five birdies.
MATT FITZPATRICK: Made it on short game. I don't want to come across the wrong way, but I hit it good off the tee but I felt like I struggled into the green and I didn't hit it very good into the green, I didn't think personally, bar a few shots. But I think my short game was probably the best of my life today, I think. Sort of every chip and putt that I looked at was close. Yeah, it was just really, really good short game I'd say.
I mean, I wouldn't say I played horrific. It was one of those where I only just missed the green or just didn't quite catch the shot or wrong yardage, so wasn't horrific, but just wasn't quite on the number, I guess.
Q. I was talking to your dad outside, and he told me about during the practice round you guys were out on 10, and you hit a good drive and hit a 3‑wood, and you didn't get there. Were there some early concerns at the beginning of the week about the yardage of this course, 7,300 yards, for your game?
MATT FITZPATRICK: Yeah, there definitely was, yeah. I thought it played very long. But on the practice rounds, both courses played fairly long because it was so wet. I think because it's dried out the ball is running a bit further, and you've still got to control it off the fairways into the greens, which is nice, but it's carrying a little bit further. Today the wind changed around, and for me the back nine played longer, I think. There's certainly a few holes where I hit a good few more clubs in than I had done in previous days.
But no, I did think it would be a long course, and I never thought that ‑‑ well, I still don't think that I'm big a hitter, but I was thinking I need to improve that anyway. It seems to be going all right so far.
Q. Have you grown up as a player this week?
MATT FITZPATRICK: Yeah, I'd say so. I've played my way around well, I think. When I'm at the course I feel like I've adapted pretty well. I always say I grew most at the Open. That was just so new to me, and it was just fantastic to be there, and the result was sort of just a bonus, really. It was just nice to compete.
Q. You have a lot to play for tomorrow but you had a lot to play for today, as well, so assuming that the qualification standards remain the same you've played your way into Augusta next year and then the U.S. Open at Pinehurst. Been to either place, dreamed about either tournament?
MATT FITZPATRICK: I've not been to Augusta. Augusta is just sort of, as everyone says, golf heaven, I guess. That's where anyone who plays golf knows that golf course. Augusta is so famous. That's certainly ‑‑ well, it's just virtually impossible to get a game there. So this is my best opportunity.
And then in terms of the U.S. Open, I've been to Pinehurst before. I think I've got a few old scorecards somewhere in my loft maybe. We didn't play any of the courses, but just having a look around, and the whole complex is amazing. Well, it just looks like a fantastic course, tree‑lined, and no doubt it will be in pristine condition.
Q. Was that on your mind at all?
MATT FITZPATRICK: No, I don't think so. Obviously it's hard to block it out, those occasions my brother would mention coming out here and so many holes away from the U.S. Open. It was one of those, I personally think I was more focused on trying to make a par or something like that rather than getting ahead of my station, I guess.
Q. Whose game do you emulate in regards to short game?
MATT FITZPATRICK: Well, if I'm completely honest, and this is going to come across really bad, but I know for a fact on stats chipping and pitching is the worst part of my game, and that's a fact, definitely from last year's stats and definitely from this year's stats. But today I just think you've got to be confident coming out of the rough. There's no way you can sort of just die it in as you come through. You've got to give it the full commitment to the shot. And I think hitting a few good chips early on gave me the confidence to keep going at it, chipping it quite well.
But I wouldn't say there's anyone in particular that I try to copy. I mean, my coach, Mike here, looks after Brett Rumford, and everyone tells me how good he is at short game, and I've not seen it myself, but from the things I've heard, it would be nice to have a short game like his. Obviously Luke, he's got a great short game, as well, and John Callahan, who's also at Northwestern, he was saying that I was looking forward to doing more work with Pat (Goss) once I get to college because he's a good short game coach. He's got a few players on the Tour, I think, who he does short game with, and just trying to improve my short game personally.
But today it sort of all came together, I guess.
Q. When you chipped in behind 8 when you were above the hole and you say you don't have a very good short game, I'm just trying to think of what you're thinking about there. First of all, are you thinking about making it, and secondly, how were you approaching that shot, because most people would think that ball would go about 10 or 15 feet by.
MATT FITZPATRICK: Yeah, the good thing about having my brother on the bag, as well, is he is a short game wizard. He could get up‑and‑down out of a dust bin. It's actually frightening the stuff I've seen him do, to be fair, and I did ask him actually a few times on the way around what shot he thought I should play. On that occasion I didn't think I'd be able to stop it short, although pretty sure it only just dropped in. And I wasn't trying to hole out, I was just trying to get it dead weight, almost as if I was sort of imagining as if I was on the green what pace would I be putting on it to putt, and just trying my hardest to just get it up in the air and out of the rough. I think if it was on the fringe I would have putted it maybe, but it was a bad enough lie to just sort of hack at it and get it up a little bit and just get it rolling.
Q. When you're around those greens starting at No. 2, right through 15, and according to my statistics, you had 20 putts through 17 holes and hit five greens. Do you have a wedge that you go to when you're right in that fringe?
MATT FITZPATRICK: Yeah, it's always 58, really, for me. I feel that you need the loft out of here to have any chance of stopping it, so just opening it up and hitting it.
Q. How much of an underdog do you think you've been viewed as in England among your elite amateur peers, and how do you think that perception has changed over the last month with your performance?
MATT FITZPATRICK: I don't know whether I'm seen as an underdog. I don't really know sort of what the opinions are. I'm very lucky that when I do see the other guys they're always very complimentary, which is very nice, and they always say that I've got an unbelievable short game, but then I look at the stats and I wonder where they've got that from.
I think this year at the start of the year, as I said before, my exams sort of got in the way, and I was just getting on top of them rather than focusing on the golf. And then since I have focused on the golf, I've been playing better, and sort of my performances are helping that, really.
Q. For the last three days you've talked about the exams. Can you give us a primer about what that's all about, we Americans who don't know about that, because your mom talked about that's really been taking up most of your time, and she's really surprised how well you've done since you haven't played that much golf.
MATT FITZPATRICK: Yeah, I mean, the exams are took, we're A levels, and everyone just ‑‑ everyone who I know and pretty much I guess everyone in the world who knows what they are, they say that they are the hardest exams that you'll ever take, harder than any university and stuff like that, because the thing is you've got a lot to learn in a little time, really. And for me I was just focused on trying to learn the lot. But unfortunately it didn't come off and I didn't get very good results, which was very disappointing, but certainly after today it's sort of not ‑‑ it doesn't matter because ‑‑ it does matter to me, and I guess it will for quite a while, but this is sort of a nice swap. I'd rather have bad results and sort of be where I am if I'm honest.
I'm very lucky in the position that I am that I've got my university place at Northwestern, whereas you compare it to ‑‑ well, the night before the results came out, I was on Twitter and Facebook and everyone was just panicking because it does decide their life, really. It does decide what course they're doing at university and what they are going to do, because unfortunately I know a couple of people that didn't get quite what they wanted, and they probably won't be doing what they want, really, which is obviously disappointing for them, and they don't really know what's going to happen.
So yeah, I was just wishing everyone the best, and I've seen a lot of people get what they want, so it's good for those people.
Q. How often does your brother caddie for you? It sounds like he's a good caddie/advisor/golfer.
MATT FITZPATRICK: He never, ever caddies. This is the first time in a long, long time, I think, that he's caddied for me. No offense, but I think he'll be caddying maybe for the practice rounds again, maybe a couple of practice rounds, and otherwise I'll be ‑‑ well, I've just sent a text to my coach and he sat next to the caddie that I had at the Open, and I think he's more than happy to come back out of retirement for me, as well. Not tomorrow, I'll be having Alex tomorrow, but yeah, he's a good golfer and he's a bit into his soccer, as well, football to me, but I think this week again and the Open week in particular has sort of made him come around to maybe taking golf more seriously, really.
Q. Speaking of your brother and your 58‑degree wedge, did you laugh or did you want to wring his neck when he told you on the second hole that he didn't have it in the bag?
MATT FITZPATRICK: By the end of it, it was laugh, but at the start I was very angry, yeah. There was no doubt about it I was angry. Maybe I said something that I probably shouldn't to him, but it's all right, by the next hole we were absolutely fine, and it was a good job I got up‑and‑down because otherwise maybe I would have been a bit more angry.
Q. Both your parents said that you don't get angry, so does that constitute you being angry?
MATT FITZPATRICK: I guess I don't really. I try ‑‑ that was a big thing yesterday when I was down. I was just trying to stay smiling, because at the end of the day you're in a great place playing golf, and there's not many people that can be where I am. Just try and play the best I can and just enjoy it, really.
Q. You say you're not very good with your short game, but everybody that sees your game says you're good with short game, so if you're not good with short game and you were concerned about the length of this golf course, what did you do this week that got you in that seat?
MATT FITZPATRICK: I drove it well, yeah. I drove it well. I've got something ‑‑ I can't have missed many fairways throughout the week, touch wood, but that is probably the biggest thing. I have drove it pretty well to be fair. And I think that puts you in a good position to ‑‑ well, to hit the greens. Hitting it down the middle, the green sort of suddenly opens up, and you've got a lot more room to work with, and you know how it's going to come out of the fairway. I think that's probably the biggest thing, really.
Q. Is there a putt today that you thought you couldn't make?
MATT FITZPATRICK: No, I'd probably say there wasn't. I was disappointed missing the early one there. But no, it wasn't the end of the world if I did. But no, I just gave 100 percent to every one, and they all seemed to drop today, which was nice.
Q. Speaking of putting, that putt on the 6th green, how big was that in terms of just turning around the momentum and getting the match starting to go in your favor?
MATT FITZPATRICK: Yeah, that was pretty big. My brother said that it was just on the front of the green, and I thought, no, he's a bit further, and he said, no, it's still the front of the green. It's going to be a tough putt. And then I holed it. Yeah, I agree, I think that was sort of a bit of a turning point, and then holing a long one on the next and then chipping in, those three holes were the big change, really.
Q. Have you ever played a 36‑hole match play or anything like that before?
MATT FITZPATRICK: Yeah, I played the British Boys last year, and I played the English Amateur about two weeks ago.
Q. Those are both 36‑hole finals?
MATT FITZPATRICK: Yeah.
Q. You've got history in front of you. There's only been one English champion of the U.S. Amateur as you know, and that was Harold Hilton back in 1911. What does that mean to you?
MATT FITZPATRICK: It's a nice position to be in. But again, it's not the end of the world if it doesn't come off tomorrow. There is worse things, so I'm just giving it my best, and if I don't play well enough on the day, then that's that, really.
PETE KOWALSKI: Matt, thanks so much. Well played. We'll see you tomorrow.