Amateur champ unfazed by Amen Corner
AUGUSTA — Augusta National's revered Amen Corner has ruined many experienced golfers' rounds, but U.S. Amateur champion Matthew Fitzpatrick didn't allow his to be one of them.
In fact, the Sheffield, England native, beat his playing partners – defending Masters champion Adam Scott and reigning PGA champion Jason Dufner – by going 1-over during the three-hole stretch from No. 11 to No. 13.
“I don't know that it hinders me or helps me that they're making mistakes,” Fitzpatrick, who carded a 4-over 76 on the day, said. “I think, obviously, they're finding it tough, so I'm likely to find it more tough.”
Dufner and Fitzpatrick both wound up in the trees off the tee on No. 11, but Dufner went on to bogey while Fitzpatrick drained his par putt.
On No. 12, Fitzpatrick managed to get up and down out of the rear bunker for a par, while Scott dumped his tee shot in the water and wound up with a double bogey 5. It was the only over-par hole for the defending champ, who shot a 3-under 69 with five birdies, and Fitzpatrick said there was a “little bit of excitement” when he discovered he'd be playing with Scott for the day.
“I don't really know what to say other than he had it on a piece of string,” Fitzpatrick said.
The 19-year-old wasn't able to avoid the trouble on No. 13, as he hit his second shot into the creek and took a penalty stroke on the way to a bogey 6. But that came after he watched Dufner put his ball in the same creek twice on the way to a crushing 9 at the par 5.
Other than that, getting out of tricky situations was a theme for Fitzpatrick's day. He double-bogeyed the first hole, but Scott was impressed with the putt he made to lock in that score and move on to the par-5 second hole, which he birdied.
“But he did hole a great putt for double bogey and that's exactly what I said to him,” Scott recalled. “I said, ‘Great putt; get going now.' And he calmed down and he birdied the next, and he played fine.”
After No. 2, Fitzpatrick logged 10 straight pars before back-to-back bogeys on Nos. 13 and 14 and another on No. 17.
As a result, Fitzpatrick – who began his freshman year at Northwestern but has since decided he will pursue a full-time amateur career – had a mixed review for his round.
“I played well for nine after the first hole, but the back nine just trickled a little bit,” he said. “Just trying too hard, a few loose shots and it cost me, really.”
While this is certainly Fitzpatrick's first major and first trip to Augusta, he is no stranger to the area. He finished eighth at the 2013 Junior Invitational and Sage Valley, but as tough as that course is, Fitzpatrick said it was no match for Augusta National's difficulty level.
“I've got to admit, it's completely different,” he said. “It's just so much harder here. It's just so much different.”
Jeremy Timmerman has a journalism degree from Mercer University. Follow him on Twitter @ASJTimm.