‘Baby-faced assassin’ Matthew Fitzpatrick gunning for first PGA Tour title at Butterfield Bermuda Championship

·4 min read

They call him “the baby-faced assassin.”

A member of the Bermuda media reminded 27-year-old Englishman Matthew Fitzpatrick of a nickname that is apropos for a man destined to be carded at bars right up until he qualifies for the PGA Tour Champions, and it drew a chuckle.

“Yes, I’ve been told that a few times before,” he said. “It’s pretty amusing to me. It’s a good thing to be known as baby faced, I know that. The assassin thing, strictly golf, of course.”

Fitzpatrick’s killer instinct was on display two weeks ago in Spain at the Andalucia Masters as he patiently registered 15 straight pars in a row to start his final round to remain in the hunt long enough for leader Sebastian Soderberg to blink. When the Swede made double bogey at 17, Fitzpatrick pounced at the opportunity, making two closing birdies to shoot a bogey-free 69 and win his seventh European Tour title.

The victory removed some of the bad taste of being winless in three matches at the Ryder Cup last month, dropping his overall record to 0-5 as a member of the losing European side in 2016 and 2021.

“It was a very tough one to take,” he said of Team Europe getting hammered by a score of 19-9 and his two losses in foursomes and in singles to American Daniel Berger on the last hole.

‘The Baby-Faced Assassin’ Matthew Fitzpatrick proudly holds the Havemeyer Trophy after defeating Oliver Goss, 4 and 3, at the 2013 U. S. Amateur at The Country Club.

Fitzpatrick said he played very well at the Ryder Cup, but was unlucky to run into even hotter hands in his matches. In short, his record wasn’t a fair reflection of how he actually played at Whistling Straits.

“To play my first week back and win kind of proved that to myself and gave me some confidence going into the end of the year,” Fitzpatrick said.

The Butterfield Bermuda Championship was a late addition to his schedule as he decided to swap out the Houston Open after his team determined Bermuda was a better fit for his game. Fitzpatrick, who grew up playing at windswept Hallamshire Golf Club in Sheffield, England, said he should feel right at home trying to figure out the tricky Bermuda tradewinds.

“You’ve got to be able to control your ball and for me, growing up in the U.K., I’ve played in plenty of wind. Playing the European Tour as well is the same,” he explained. “That’s probably the No. 1 thing here from what I’ve been told is, you know, your wind skills.”

Fitzpatrick is beginning his third season as a PGA Tour member this week. He recorded five top-10s and qualified for the FedEx Cup playoffs for the second consecutive season, finishing No. 73 in the FedEx Cup standings. He made the cut in 15 of 20 starts, with his best result of the season coming at the RBC Heritage (T-4). He’s earned more than $7 million in his career on the PGA Tour, but so far victory has eluded him. He singled out his iron play for holding him back last season.

“That’s all really,” he said. “I would say on the whole, the chances I’ve had to win, I’ve not really lost, I’ve just been beaten. A couple years ago (Francesco) Molinari ends up shooting 64 or whatever silly score it was at Bay Hill to pip me by one. And Riviera (in February), same deal; I played well over the weekend but Max (Homa) came through, shot a great Sunday round this year.”

At No. 26 in the world, the baby-faced assassin is one of the betting favorites along with Patrick Reed, World No. 24 and the only player in the field with a better ranking, and knows this could be a good opportunity to get that maiden win on the PGA Tour and jump-start his pursuit of qualifying for the Tour Championship, the season-finale reserved for the top 30 players.

“If it’s not this week, next week, I’d love that. Wherever it is, it will be one that I always remember,” he said. “I’m 1-for-1 post Ryder Cup, so just going to try to keep it rolling.”