It was back in 1921 when the first Boys’ Amateur was held at Royal Ascot – with Scotland’s Donald Mathieson victorious – and a long and rich history for one of golf’s most prestigious amateur championships has followed.
Played annually in Great Britain and Ireland, it has consistently attracted the best junior male golfers from around the world and former winners include Sir Michael Bonallack (1952), Howard Clark (1971), Ronan Rafferty (1979), José María Olazábal (1983), David Howell (1993), Sergio Garcia (1997), Tom Lewis (2009) and Adrián Otaegui (2010).
Runners-up down the years also include Sandy Lyle – the 1985 Open champion and winner of the 1988 Masters Tournament – Rafa Cabrerra-Bello and Eddie Pepperell, who lost the all-English final to Lewis at Royal St George’s in 2009.
After his successes in the Boys’ Amateur, Bonallack also went on to win The Amateur in 1961, 1965, 1968, 1969 and 1970.
Fitzpatrick continues to enjoy an impressive professional career, which has already seen him win eight DP World Tour titles and make two Ryder Cup appearances in 2016 and 2021. He also finished just outside the top-20 in last month’s 150th Open at St Andrews.
Yet, he continues to hold his Boys’ Amateur title in high regard – not least because of the amusing story he recalls on the eve of the Final.
The Sheffield player added, “For me, it was quite funny, because Hollinwell was only 40 minutes away from where I lived, so I actually had a lot of family members and sort of home support in the final. I do remember, actually, my dad told me a funny story. The night before, I was a little bit nervous, for sure, because it was the biggest tournament that I had been involved in.
“My dad said, ‘don’t worry about it because statistically, what I’ve looked at, is that the runners-up tend to actually go on and do better things in professional golf.’ I was like ‘oh, really, wow, that’s great.’ So that settled my nerves the night before a little bit. Fortunately, I was nine up through 18 so I was in cruise control. I managed to win 10&8 which made life a lot easier, less stressful for sure. A few days later, I asked ‘was that true about the British Boys, dad?’ He said, ‘no, no it wasn’t’. He just made it up! It helped though and I know some runners-up have gone on to good careers too.”
The following year, Fitzpatrick’s dream 2013 season also included winning the US Amateur Championship. At Muirfield, he posted a tie for 44th to beat Jimmy Mullen to the amateur prize, rubbing shoulders with top names and further developing his belief to succeed in the sport.
Fitzpatrick, whose younger brother Alex also recently turned professional, said, “It was just an amazing experience for me, really. To be able to make the cut and finish with the low amateur honour was brilliant. Winning that certainly kicked on my golf career. It’s a week I’ll obviously always remember.”