Fitzpatrick drops out to keep on course

Matt Fitzpatrick
Matt Fitzpatrick
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Matt FITZPATRICK insists he has no intention of turning professional until much later in the year after quitting college in North America.

The 19-year-old from Sheffield began a four-year golf scholarship at Northwestern University in September following a memorable summer in which he won the silver medal at the Open and the US Amateur title.

He said in an interview with the Yorkshire Post in December that the academic side was getting on top of him and that his golf game was conflicted as he was receiving advice from different coaches on both sides of the Atlantic.

He informed Northwestern golf coach Pat Goss – who helped steer Luke Donald to the top of the professional ranks – that he would not be returning for a second semester.

The clamour will now grow for world No 1 amateur Fitzpatrick to turn professional, but he has long since maintained that playing in the Masters, US Open and Open are his ambitions for 2014.

He also wants to defend the 
US Amateur title and if he moves into the professional ranks now he will forfeit all those privileges.

Fitzpatrick said: “Based on the opportunities I have right now from a golf perspective, I feel it is important to dedicate 100 per cent of my time to the game and have decided to withdraw from university in the US.

“It was a difficult decision to make but one that I thought about for a long time.

“I felt it was best to concentrate entirely on my golf so I can be as good as I possibly can be.

“I want to try and defend the 
US Amateur and unless something crazy happens, like a top-10 or top-20 in a major, I’ve no plans to turn pro. If that did happen then I may have to reassess.

“But there’s no rush to turn professional. If I feel I’m ready then I’ll talk it through with my coach (long-time tutor Mike Walker) and my family.

“There’s still lots of opportunities for me. I’m happy to see how 2014 goes and there’s also another Walker Cup in 2015.”

Northwestern graduate Donald said: “I think Matt struggled in school a little bit. He found Northwestern tough academically and found it tough to juggle academics and golf.

“Personally, I think the four years I had were invaluable. I really enjoyed my experience. But it’s not for everyone and I wish Matt all the best.”