Matt Fitzpatrick insists he feels he 'belongs' in Europe Ryder Cup team
Matt Fitzpatrick believes he finally “belongs” in the Ryder Cup team as he bids to contribute to the European cause for the first time.
Fitzpatrick has endured a miserable experience in the biennial contest to date, losing both of his matches at Hazeltine in 2016 and all three in the record 19-9 defeat at Whistling Straits five years later.
However, the 29-year-old won his first major title in the US Open the following year and arrived in Rome as the world number eight, albeit having endured seeing his beloved Sheffield United get thrashed 8-0 by Newcastle hours earlier.
“Yeah, I had the pleasure of being there on Sunday,” Fitzpatrick said with a significant dose of sarcasm. “I am a massive football fan so it was a pretty sore one to take, that’s for sure.
“But I’m just really excited to be here this week. From getting here late Sunday night it’s been great so far.
“I think looking back, you could argue that I probably wasn’t necessarily ready for 2016. I was still really young. I wasn’t obviously the longest back then. There’s quite a lot of technical differences in my swing between now and then as well.
“I only played one foursomes and obviously the singles, so that was kind of disappointing. You build it up to be this amazing thing that you wanted to be part of, thinking that you’ll get a real good go at it, and obviously I never did.
“But at the same time it’s what you learn from. And I feel like I know much more how to get ready for an event like this now than I did.
“Being a major champion does you a world of good. You definitely feel much more like you belong.
“You feel like you’ve had that success at the highest level before, and you feel that you always have that feeling that you can repeat that. I want to win a point, of course. But I really would rather be on a winning team.”
Fitzpatrick’s caddie, Billy Foster, has been on plenty of those and picked up significant amounts of memorabilia at Whistling Straits as the final singles match between his employer and Daniel Berger played out long after the result had been decided.
“I was talking to Daniel Berger as we were going around and we were kind of saying it’s pretty dead,” Fitzpatrick said. “The match didn’t really have any significance by the time we got to maybe the 10th or 12th hole.
“It was great, though, because Billy and Daniel Berger’s caddie just took every flag, so I’m sure they’ve got the most mementos because nobody really cared.”