‘I root for him, he roots for me’: The Open means more to Fitzpatrick brothers

HOYLAKE, England — Matt Fitzpatrick was hoping his younger brother, Alex, would finish the third round of the 151st Open Championship at 2 under, so they’d have a chance to play the final 18 holes together at Royal Liverpool Golf Club on Sunday.

Matt won’t get the chance after his little brother upstaged him.

Alex, making his first start in a major championship, carded a 6-under 65 on Saturday to move up the leaderboard at 4 under after 54 holes. Alex had seven birdies, including three in the last four holes, with just one bogey.

“Yeah, super special round,” Alex said. “I’m not familiar with this environment and the amount of people out here, but me and my caddie had a great time out there and things went our way, which was super cool. Yeah, just a bit lost for words, really.”

The brothers, who grew up in Sheffield, England, competed together in the PGA Tour’s team event this season, tying for 19th in the Zurich Classic of New Orleans in April.

Alex, who played four years of college golf at Wake Forest, qualified for his first Open Championship by tying for fourth in a final qualifying tournament at nearby West Lancashire in Liverpool, England.

Now ranked 561st in the world, Alex was ranked as high as fourth in the amateur world rankings and competed on two Walker Cup teams, the first at Royal Liverpool in 2019. Alex turned pro last year and has competed mostly on the DP World Tour and PGA Tour Canada.

Matt, the 2022 U.S. Open champion and ninth-ranked player in the world, said he urged his parents to go watch Alex play on Saturday.

“I told them to go focus on him,” Matt said. “That’s more important. This is my, what, ninth [Open Championship]? So, they’ve seen all nine of those. This is his first, so that’s more important.”

It’s also been one of the better performances in The Open for Matt, who is 2 under after 54 holes after carding a 4-under 67 on Saturday. His best career finish in the event is a tie for 20th at Royal Portrush in Northern Ireland in 2019.

“There will be no rivalry or anything like that,” Alex said. “We’re brothers at the end of the day as much as we’re golfers. I root for him, he roots for me. We’re both supporting each other, and we both want what’s best for each other.”

But the Fitzpatrick brothers do seem to be keeping score.

Earlier this week, a tweet alleged that Alex had never finished higher than Matt in a professional tournament. Alex set the record straight Saturday, noting that he tied for 37th and Matt missed the cut in the 2022 Andalucia Masters, an event Matt had won the year before on the DP World Tour.

“That tweet wasn’t quite correct,” Alex said. “I don’t get to play with him very often, so it’s hard to beat him when you only played about three events in your lifetime together.”

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