Matt Fitzpatrick insists he will relish the challenge of a “brute of a golf course” as he bids to claim a second major title in the US PGA Championship.
The renovated East Course at Oak Hill is set to provide the world’s best players with a severe test, with Robert MacIntyre describing it as an “absolute monster” and the toughest course he has ever played.
However, the 7,394-yard, par-70 layout – whose two par fives both measure over 600 yards – holds relatively few fears for Fitzpatrick, who played in the final group in the last round of the US PGA 12 months ago before winning his maiden major title a month later at the US Open.
“I think that final round (at Southern Hills) there was a lot of talk about me playing a little bit too fast, looking a bit rushed,” Fitzpatrick said.
“Obviously at the time you don’t see that and I only really had like a week afterwards before I was playing the next run of tournaments, so I kind of didn’t get much time to reflect on it.
“But then I think when the time came Sunday of US Open I felt like I knew exactly what to do.
“Statistically I didn’t even putt that well that week, so if I can play the same way again and putt as well as I know I can, then that’s also another level that I can kind of add to my performance.
“I think that’s kind of a big thing for myself that I feel like if I can do that, I know I can contend and win.”
Fitzpatrick was six under par in winning the US Open at Brookline and although he was 17 under before beating Jordan Spieth in a play-off at the RBC Heritage last month, a tougher test has always been his preference.
“I’ve said it multiple times, I hate it when tournaments are 25, 30 under par to win,” the world number seven said. “I don’t particularly feel like I play well in those.
“I just like it when it’s hard and you’ve got to battle and par is a good score. I just enjoy it, for whatever reason.
“From the holes that I’ve seen, there’s so many tough, tough golf holes where you have to hit just good shots. I think that’s the great thing about it, it’s a proper test.
“It’s just a brute of a golf course. It reminds me a lot of Winged Foot when we played (the 2020 US Open) just because you miss the fairways there and it was just chipping out.
The last seven men’s majors have all been won by players in their 20s, a streak started by Jon Rahm’s US Open victory in 2021 and continued by the world number one’s Masters triumph last month.
That may be a good omen for the likes of Rahm, Fitzpatrick and Open champion Cameron Smith – who will contest the first two rounds together – and also for world number two Scottie Scheffler.
But it is less encouraging for Rory McIlroy as he bids to claim a first major title since the second of his US PGA wins in 2014, the 33-year-old having followed a dispiriting missed cut in the Masters with a tie for 47th in the Wells Fargo Championship.
Jordan Spieth, who needs to lift the Wanamaker Trophy to complete a career grand slam, looked on course to compete at Oak Hill after withdrawing from last week’s PGA Tour event due to “severe pain” from a wrist injury.