NPR Story
3:47 pm
Mon August 19, 2013

UK Gets Century-Old Revenge At Golf Tournament

A British teenager won the men’s U.S. Amateur Golf Championship at The Country Club in Brookline, Mass. on Sunday.

In a way, the victory by 18-year-old Matt Fitzpatrick makes up for what happened on the very same golf course in 1913, when a young American named Francis Quiment defeated the two top British professionals of the day, Ted Ray and Harry Vardon, to win the U.S. Open.

After his win at the 36-hole final match yesterday, Fitzpatrick said “it’s great to go down in history.”

Here & Now’s Alex Ashlock was on the course for yesterday’s championship.

Guest

  • Alex Ashlock, producer for Here & Now and director of the show.
Copyright 2013 WBUR-FM. To see more, visit http://www.wbur.org.

Transcript

MEGHNA CHAKRABARTI, HOST:

It's HERE AND NOW.

(APPLAUSE)

CHAKRABARTI: That's the ever so polite applause at the championship match in the men's U.S. amateur golf tournament, which was held the Country Club in Brookline, Massachusetts yesterday. HERE AND NOW's Alex Ashlock was in the gallery and joins us in the studio. So, Alex, you're a fan of golf history, and we'll get to that in a moment, but tell us first about the amateur tournament because it's not like the pros.

ALEX ASHLOCK, BYLINE: No, it's not. If you think about tournaments like the U.S. Open, it's the player with the lowest score after four days who wins the tournament. But in the U.S. amateur, it's match play. All you have to do is win the hole you're playing. So if you and I are playing and I shoot a 10, which is not a very a good score, I win the hole if you shoot an 11.

CHAKRABARTI: OK. So that's for that hole. But how do you win the match?

ASHLOCK: All you have to do is win more holes than the other person, the other player. If I'm up four holes and there are only three to play, I win the match because there aren't enough holes left for you to make up the difference. And that's what happened yesterday. The winner was up four holes with three holes to play, so he won the match, four and three.

CHAKRABARTI: OK. It seems pretty straightforward. So tell us about that championship match.

ASHLOCK: It was really interesting. The finals were two teenagers, 18-year-old Matt Fitzpatrick of England and 19-year-old Oliver Goss of Australia. There wasn't much separating them early on. And Goss thought he had some momentum when he chipped in from off the green on the 18th hole of this 36-hole match.

OLIVER GOSS: Yeah, that was huge. That was really big for me. I was really happy to hole that chip. I was definitely trying to hole it. I knew I needed to hole it. And to do was just incredible in front of all the people.

ASHLOCK: The chip then kept Fitzpatrick from winning that hole and left Goss just one down after the first 18 holes of the match. It's very civilized. They take a break and have lunch and then they come back and play the second 18.

CHAKRABARTI: Very civilized ,indeed. So what happened over those next 18 holes?

ASHLOCK: Goss tied it up right away. But then, he gave it right back when he lost the next two holes.

GOSS: To win the first hole in the afternoon and be square, I mean, you're right back where you started. It's a to level playing field. And to give up two holes straight away was just crushing. It was quite big in the match.

ASHLOCK: It really was a turning point, Meghna, because the 18-year-old Fitzpatrick just wasn't losing any holes in this match. And I happen to be standing next to his family when he finally won the match.

UNIDENTIFIED GROUP: Oh.

(APPLAUSE)

RUSSELL FITZPATRICK: Congratulations.

UNIDENTIFIED CHILD: Yeah.

MATT FITZPATRICK: Thank you.

UNIDENTIFIED CHILD: Yes.

FITZPATRICK: Congratulations.

FITZPATRICK: Yeah, thank you very much. Yeah, cheers. Thank you.

ASHLOCK: So what happened there was Goss missed a putt and that meant that Fitzpatrick had won the match, and you could hear them, the family sort of saying, oh, my God. He just won the match. That was his father, Russell. He and the Fitzpatrick family traveled to Brookline from Sheffield, England, to watch their son, Matt, play, and he rewarded them with the national championship.

FITZPATRICK: I'm really happy for my family as they put so much time and effort into me, and just something like this is quite rewarding for them I guess as well.

CHAKRABARTI: So Sheffield, England, that brings us to the historical part of this story. Tell us more about that, Alex.

ASHLOCK: It took 100 years, but his win yesterday was a little bit of a revenge of sorts for one of the most famous golf tournaments in history back in 1913. It was a young American named Francis Ouimet. He won the U.S. Open at The Country Club here in Brookline. He did that by beating two older British professionals. Their names were Ted Ray and Harry Vardon. And overnight Ouimet became a national hero. And Matt Fitzpatrick recognized the significance of his victory on the same course.

MATTHEW FITZPATRICK: I'm very, very happy, and I'm really pleased with the way I played. It's great to go down the history.

ASHLOCK: And, Meghna, there's another comparison between 2013 and 1913. When Francis Ouimet won in 1913, he had this 10-year-old caddy. His name was Eddie Lowery. And Eddie had played hooky to caddy for Ouimet in the U.S. Open. Yesterday, Matt Fitzpatrick had his kid brother Alex caddying for him. So that was kind of cool. It's soon back to school, however, for both of them. Alex, home in England, and Matt begins his freshman year at Northwestern in a couple of weeks. They'll certainly have something to talk about when they're asked, what did you guys do this summer?

(LAUGHTER)

CHAKRABARTI: No kidding. Won a national championship.

ASHLOCK: That's all. That's a pretty good summer.

CHAKRABARTI: Not bad. HERE AND NOW's Alex Ashlock, thanks so much.

ASHLOCK: You're welcome, Meghna. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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