The R&A - Working for Golf

Fitzpatrick and Wu ready for challenge

There are few better proving grounds for a young up-and-coming golfer than the Walker Cup – just ask the Fitzpatrick family. 

Matthew Fitzpatrick recorded top 20 finishes at both The Open and the US Open this year, but his breakthrough came six years ago in the famous amateur event. 

He won three out of four of his matches in defeat as Great Britain and Ireland fell 17-9 at the National Golf Links of America – and now his brother Alex is looking to follow in his footsteps. 

Pinnacle of the game

“I think as any amateur would like to be playing in the Walker Cup, it's probably the pinnacle of the amateur game,” said Alex, 20. 

“Obviously being involved in the team, it's something I've always wanted to do. So yeah, I guess it's an achievement that can't be matched, really. 

“[Matthew has wished me] good luck. That's about it. The odd text now and then. But no, not really any advice. 

“He's been given sort of just do your own thing and play well really.”

In spite of Matthew’s efforts in 2013, GB&I is still yet to win on American soil since 2001. 

But they have not been defeated on their own since 2007 and that’s a record Fitzpatrick-the-younger is keen to extend. 

Home advantage key

“Apparently the conditions tomorrow and Sunday will be not as much wind, so this past week has been pretty windy,” he continued. 

“There's been a few showers and stuff, so the conditions will be a little different tomorrow. But I still think it'll play an advantage with any sort of wind that we'll have. 

“The Americans aren't quite as used to playing hard, fast courses, so hopefully that will sort of catch them out a bit. But I'm sure they've prepared well, and they'll adjust to how strong the wind is.

“I have only played since the training sessions that we had last year and all through this year. 

“But I feel like everyone here has adjusted to the course well and got used to it. I spent a full week playing it this week, and we've played a lot of golf, so hopefully we'll be okay.”

Challenging links

Nothing quite compares to links golf and that is the challenge currently facing the American Walker Cup team. 

The 47th edition of the famous amateur match will take place at Royal Liverpool this weekend, with Great Britain and Ireland looking to wrestle back the crown after a 19-7 triumph for the USA in Los Angeles back in 2017.

And for young star Brandon Wu, the unforgiving nature of his golfing surroundings are still taking a bit of getting used to. 

Adjustments for Wu and US team

“Coming over here the conditions are a little bit different than what we experience in the United States,” he said. 

“Starting with this week, I'm sure what the boys have seen is the wind. 

“I think for me, when I came over for The Open, the biggest, the most eye-opening thing was how much the ball actually moves in crosswinds. 

“I think it just takes a little bit of time to adjust, to visualise how much it's moving, how much it's moving on the ground, and then just trying to leave yourself in the right spots, not necessarily being not short-sided but also you want to be chipping into the wind. It makes a big difference.”

USA seeking rare road win

Currently leading 36-9 in the overall tally since the tournament’s inception in 1922, the USA has nevertheless failed to win on the road since 2007.

And while the weather could well be testing, Wu admits the format itself may prove a challenge. 

“With the foursomes format, I think we've put a lot of emphasis on how important that is,” he said.

“I know historically we haven't done as well in the foursomes format as we would have liked, so starting in December at the practice session we played six rounds of foursomes there, we played foursomes at Pinehurst last week and played a bunch of foursomes this week. 

“So, I think we've had the experience of kind of getting used to the format, getting used to our partners, and looking forward to getting that started.”