Masters matters more than football, says Fitzpatrick

Last Updated: Wednesday, April 9, 2014 - 18:01

Augusta: Just making the cut would be a dream for this year`s youngest player at the Masters, 19-year-old Englishman Matthew Fitzpatrick, but he could be forgiven for thinking otherwise.

Making it into the weekend would mean he would be sure of missing his football club, Sheffield United, play Hull City in the FA Cup semi-finals on Sunday.

Languishing down in England`s third tier, it is a rare look at glory for one of the oldest clubs in the world, who last won the famed trophy in 1925.

But even the prospect of cheering on his beloved Blades to their first FA Cup final in 78 years is not enough to divert the teenager`s focus from playing for the first time at Augusta National this week in the first major of the year.

"Obviously I`m disappointed, missing that," he said on Tuesday. "But in all honesty, I think I would rather be here. So even if I didn`t miss the cut, I would much rather be here.

"I`ve been kindly invited, if they make it to the final, by Justin Rose. Hopefully I`ll be able to take him up on that, but we`ll see."

Fitzpatrick, one the brightest young prospects emerging out of England, bagged his Masters berth by becoming last year the first British player to win the US Amateur title in 102 years and just the second ever.

It also opened the door for him to play in the US Open and the British Open, where he won the Silver Medal as the low amateur at Muirfield last year.

Like many that have gone before him, driving up Magnolia Lane for the first time to play in the famed Masters has been an "amazing" experience for the quietly-spoken young Englishman.

And making it all the more amazing on Tuesday was an impromptu round at Augusta National in the company of Rory McIlroy, who spied him on the practice range.

"Playing at 9:15 in the morning, the crowd was massive, that was something new in a practice round for me, and to play with one of the best golfers in the world is incredible," Fitzpatrick said.

"He was such a nice guy. Couldn`t speak more highly about him. He was really helpful. He would answer any questions I would ask him. It was great to play with him. His caddie asked if I want to play with him and it was a `yes` straightaway."

Asked about his plans to turn pro, Fitzgerald said that while it would be soon, he had set no certain date.

"Could be after this week, could be two weeks, could be three, could be after the Open. So I`ve not got a specific plan. It could just come randomly and it might not be `til next year.

"So I`m mainly seeing how I play this year and how I perform against these guys in particular."

AFP

First Published: Wednesday, April 9, 2014 - 18:01

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