English golf star Matt Fitzpatrick has echoed the opinion of golflegend Tiger Woods, after making the decision to decline a mega-money switch to the LIV Invitational Golf Series in search of ‘legacies and trophies’. The Saudi-backed Series led by former world No. 1 Greg Norman has sent shockwaves around the world of golf in recent months, as it looks to lure some of the sport’s biggest names away from the DP World and PGA Tours.
After plenty of speculation the entry list for the breakaway circuit’s inaugural event at Centurion Club was released on Wednesday ahead of the first tee off next week. The likes of Dustin Johnson, Lee Westwood and Sergio Garcia were all included, but one man who was not on the list is Fitzpatrick.
The Sheffield-born star has announced himself as one of the world’s best over the past few seasons, picking up seven European Tour titles and two Ryder Cup call-ups all whilst only being 27.
When the offer from Norman and his team came calling though, it was a ‘straightforward’ decision to say no. Speaking exclusively to Mirror Sport, Fitzpatrick revealed that the mega-money offer made by the Saudi-backed Series does not compare to the chance of creating legacy for the ages competing on the PGA Tour, echoing a point made by golfing great Woods just a week earlier.
The 27-year-old said: “It was pretty straightforward for me personally. I did receive an offer but it was something I wasn’t really interested in anyway. Tiger made a phenomenal point the other day about you know, he plays the game for legacies and trophies and major wins. That is what I want to play for.”
The Englishman has enjoyed a strong season so far on the PGA Tour, picking up two top 20’s, three top 10’s and three top five finishes in 10 starts. Arguably one of his most impressive came at last month’s PGA Championship, when Fitzpatrick finished in a tie for fifth – his best finish at a major tournament.
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Things could well have been so much better for the 27-year-old, who found himself three shots off the lead into the final day. A fourth round three-over-par 73 saw him finish two shots off the tournament play-off which was eventually won by Justin Thomas. This near miss at Southern Hills though once again proved exactly why Fitzpatrick sees himself competing at the top of the game on the PGA Tour, rather than on Norman’s rebel circuit.
He commented: “I’ll be honest I felt like previously I always do want to win, but sometimes you question how much do you want to win? Or are you happy with fifth place and picking up whatever money that week, but I can assure you after this weekend [PGA Championship] it kind of hit home really why I play, and why I want to be the best. You want to win tournaments, that is why I win the game and that is one positive out of the weekend, that is exactly it. I want to win, that is why I am here, I’m not looking for anything else really.”
Matt is not the only golf star in the family, with his younger brother Alex also one of the world’s hottest amateurs, playing his golf at Wake Forest University in North Carolina. Like the 27-year-old, Alex was also offered a lucrative offer to join the LIV Series, with Norman also looking to entice some of the world’s best amateur players.
Of course the decision for the younger Fitzpatrick was a much more difficult one. The opportunity to turn pro and compete for the amount of money on offer from the breakaway league was something that has of course never been seen before in the world of golf. Like his brother though, Alex instead chose to decline the big money offer as he plans to make his to the big time through the American-based circuits.
“It was definitely more difficult for himself,” Fitzpatrick said of his younger brother. “He has not started his professional career yet so he is relying on my mum and dad to help fund him as well as myself, so obviously the financial incentive to go and play on the LIV Tour straight away is huge.
“It was definitely a difficult one to turn down for him but at the same time you have got to do what we all thought was right as a person, and for his career. I think he has made the right decision himself and we will see how he gets on.” Fitzpatrick’s recent hot run on the PGA Tour has seen him rise to a career best No. 15 in the world rankings, making the highest ranked Englishman on the planet.
The only thing missing from his glittering run and CV is an illustrious PGA Tour title. After a few near misses over recent months the Englishman is confident that that all important victory is right around the corner. He commented: “I feel like the work that we put in in the off season has helped massively, this has sort of led to some big gains. I have just got to keep doing what I am doing, and I feel it will only be a matter of time.”