DUBAI, United Arab Emirates – Matt Fitzpatrick returns to the scene of the biggest European Tour win of his young career, but he’s not just thinking about defending the $8 million DP World Tour Championship in Dubai.
His mind is also on next year’s Ryder Cup.
Fitzpatrick birdied his 72nd hole 12 months ago to edge out fellow Englishman Tyrrell Hatton. The $1.4 million check for his third European Tour victory remains the biggest of his career. He won the Omega European Masters this year for his fourth win in three seasons as a pro.
No wonder he’s looking beyond this week’s tournament to next season. High on his priority list is playing a big part in Thomas Bjorn’s Ryder Cup team to take on the United States at Le Golf National in Paris next September.
“My goal is to make Thomas’ Ryder Cup team, that’s my main aim of the year,” Fitzpatrick said.
The 23-year-old made his Ryder Cup debut at Hazeltine last year. It wasn’t the debut he’d dreamt about as a young boy growing up in Sheffield, England. The 2013 U.S Amateur champion only made two appearances in Europe’s losing effort. He and Henrik Stenson lost in foursomes to Brandt Snedeker and Brooks Koepka, 3 and 2. He then lost to Zach Johnson in singles, 4 and 3.
Fitzpatrick won’t be a rookie next year, which means he will probably be more than ready if he needs to deliver a vital singles point on the final day.
“I feel like you’ve got to play your own ball before you play on Sunday,” Fitzpatrick said. “I played one foursomes game last year, and you’re hitting half the shots. It didn’t feel like you’re hitting any shots at all. So there’s never any momentum to your game. You turn up on Sunday and you sort of almost don’t really know what’s going on in a way.
“I don’t think I played enough last year to really have it make an impact on me personally. I’d love the chance obviously to make the team and play again next year.”
Fitzpatrick is fourth on the Ryder Cup European points list. A repeat win this week will go a long way to helping him get his wish of playing in next year’s match.