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Fitzpatrick brothers finally sharing the same stage at The Open Championship

Matt Fitzpatrick Matt Fitzpatrick - The Canadian Press

HOYLAKE, England (AP) — Alex Fitzpatrick has had a front-row seat for his older brother's biggest moments in golf.

He was greenside at No. 18 at Brookline when Matt won the U.S. Open last year for his first major title. Ten years ago, he was on Matt’s bag for his victory at the U.S. Amateur on the same course in Massachusetts.

They’re together again this week at the British Open, but this time pretty much as equals.

By coming through local qualifying two weeks ago, Alex — aged 24 and ranked No. 559 — ensured he’d be joining Matt — aged 28 and ranked No. 9 — in the field for the final major of the year at Hoylake.

They are sharing a house for the week with their parents, Susan and Russell. They are sharing practice rounds over the links at Royal Liverpool. They are the first English brothers to play in the same British Open since Geoffrey and Bernard Hunt in the 1960s.

“People ask, ‘What would you do if you were in the final group on Sunday?’” Matt said on Monday. “And I said, ‘Well, that would be kind of my worst nightmare, to be honest.’”

For Alex, it’s a chance to emerge out of his brother’s shadow in his first year as a professional and in what will be his first major championship.

About time, too, according to Matt.

“I remember however many years ago when I first got on tour," he said, "Alex was still at my golf club, Hallamshire (in Sheffield), and members would come up to him all the time. (They asked) ‘How’s Matt doing? Where’s Matt?’ and not, ‘How are you doing? How’s your game?’ It was just always asking about me. Well, I completely understand how it feels now because it’s the other way around. Literally the majority of the questions are, ‘How’s Alex?’

“I totally get how it is, and I’m sure for him growing up it was probably very annoying. It’s hard for him to kind of have his own identity and have his own game. People kind of (saying), ‘Oh, he’s got to be like his brother,’ when actually we are polar opposites.”

Matt drives it long and putts well, whereas Alex’s strengths are his short game.

And away from the course?

“I’m like a control freak, OCD, organized,” Matt said. “And he’s not.”

Pity the parents, then, if the brothers are drawn to play around the same time in the first round on Thursday. It sounds like they've already chosen who they will follow.

“They said they’d watch me because it’s my first one,” Alex said. “I’m sure the organizers won’t put us together. They normally put the best players in the same groups and that’s only right.”

Matt is firmly in that bracket as a major winner, even if he isn’t playing like one at the moment.

He missed the cut at the PGA Championship in May, and is coming off a T47 at the Travelers Championship and another missed cut at the Scottish Open last week.

He is the highest-ranked player from England, but he is playing down his chances of becoming the first Englishman since Nick Faldo in 1992 to win the British Open. It is even longer — Tony Jacklin in 1969 — since an Englishman won an Open in England.

“Everyone would like to be playing golf like Rory McIlroy and Scottie Scheffler right now, but that’s pretty rare for the rest of us,” Matt said.

“For me, a good finish, all jokes aside, would be kind of top 30 this week. I really do.”


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