UAE putting great effort in battling the pandemic, says golf star Fitzpatrick

Dubai - The world No.20 has won the DP World Tour Championship twice

Matthew Fitzpatrick with the DP World Tour Championship trophy in Dubai last December. — Twitter
Matthew Fitzpatrick with the DP World Tour Championship trophy in Dubai last December. — Twitter

By James Jose

Published: Thu 11 Feb 2021, 7:21 PM

Last updated: Thu 11 Feb 2021, 9:21 PM

The golf season teed off last month and reigning DP World Tour champion Matthew Fitzpatrick has set his sights on winning a Major this year.

Currently ranked No.20 in the world, the 26-year-old hopes that he can finally lay his hands on one of the four Majors — The Masters, PGA Championship, the US Open and The Open.

Fitzpatrick's best finish is tied seventh in The Masters in 2016. He finished tied 41st in the PGA Championship in 2019, back-to-back tied 12th place finishes at the US Open in 2018 and 2019 and tied 20th at The Open in 2019.

“The one I would like to win is The Masters. But I’d say, give me any of them,” Fitzpatrick said in an interview with the Khaleej Times.

“That’s the main goal for me this year, to compete in the Majors. There’s no doubt about it. To be able to have a chance of winning a Major is the goal for everyone and that’s what I want to do this year. I feel like if I can get my game in good enough shape to do it then that’s amazing. Like I said, that’s the goal for me — to try and win a Major. It is pretty similar every year, to be honest. And that is what I will be working towards throughout the year,” added the Englishman, who is sponsored by global consulting firm Protiviti.

The UAE and Dubai holds a special place for Fitzpatrick, who has won the season-ending DP World Tour Championship twice in 2016 and last December.

“For me, the golf course seems to suit me. The greens are always perfect, the way the golf course sets up. It is probably more demanding off the tee and that sort of suits me as well because I’m a decent driver of the golf ball, so that’s been a big help. But I just feel comfortable here. The weather is a big factor. What you get every day, you don’t have to mentally prepare for anything different. It is a pretty easy week, and it is quite comfortable. So, I would say that’s probably why I play so well. I know what I’m getting into every week,” he said about his twin success.

Playing against the backdrop of the pandemic hasn’t been easy but the European Tour has put protocols in place with tournaments operating under bio bubbles. And they managed to put together a decent looking calendar of 38 tournaments last season.

And Fitzpatrick said that the golfers count themselves lucky to be playing under such circumstances.

“We are really lucky we are doing our normal day jobs because the Tour has managed to hold these tournaments and done it safely. So, honestly for us, life is normal. We are very, very lucky to have that. There are obviously a lot of people in the world that are struggling with numerous things going on. So, for us, to be lucky enough to carry on life as normal is a huge bonus. Personally, it has been fine, I’m loving it. If anything, enjoying it even more than before because you realise how lucky you are to be doing what you do,” felt Fitzpatrick.

And he added that sacrificing doing other things, other than golf, is a small price to pay, looking at the bigger picture.

“You obviously miss all those things — you want to go out for dinner and stuff but if that means we can’t play golf, I’m happy to give that up. You come to tournaments for work. It is not coming just to be a tourist or go sightseeing. You are here to play golf and work hard and that’s the point of it. Obviously, you miss going out for dinner with some of the players, some of your mates but that is the sacrifice you got to give. Like I said, we are lucky enough to be doing our job and have these brilliant tournaments and we just have to turn up, do some tests, and play. It is no big deal, really. I’m not really missing anything,” he added.

Fitzpatrick, who has six victories on the European Tour, also lauded the UAE for providing a safe and secure environment during the pandemic.

“There are so many measures that the UAE have taken to make life as normal as it can be. You land, you get tested, people are wearing masks, it is mandatory to wear masks. And, for me, that’s a huge positive. For everyone that is coming in, players and even tourists. You can see the effort that people are putting here to make life as normal and they are doing a great job,” said Fitzpatrick, who finished second in the Race to Dubai, last season.

FItzpatrick also said that the strategic alliance between the European Tour and the PGA Tour bodes well for both the Tours.

“It really is brilliant. Both Tours have been in contact with each other in trying to get the game of golf to grow globally. And this is the best way forward. Both Tours have this alliance that, going forward, things are going to improve on both sides of the pond and both Tours are going to get ideas off each other on how to improve. It is only a positive thing, and everyone is looking forward to seeing how it goes,” Fitzpatrick opined.

The landmark agreement sees golf’s two major Tours collaborating and working in partnership on a number of areas including global scheduling, prize funds and playing opportunities for the respective memberships.

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