A maiden Ryder Cup appearance has gone from a distant dream to a realistic ambition for England’s Matt Fitzpatrick.
The 21-year-old, from Sheffield, followed up a tied-seventh finish at the US Masters with victory in Sweden’s Nordea Masters in June to propel himself into contention for Darren Clarke’s European team which will face the Americans at Hazeltine later this year.
Fitzpatrick first came to prominence by winning the boys’ amateur championship in 2012 before claiming the US amateur championship the following year.
It has taken him precious little time to adjust to the paid ranks.
After gaining his card at qualifying school, Fitzpatrick achieved 10 top-10 finishes in his rookie season last year and cemented his position as one of golf’s rising talents by winning the British Masters at Woburn last September.
If the progress continues this summer, Fitzpatrick could be one of the rookies at Hazeltine later this year.
He said: “It’s something I’m trying to play down a little bit. I’m just trying to take each week as it comes because there is still a long way to go.
“Hopefully I will keep playing well and see where I end up come September.”
This will be Fitzpatrick’s third appearance at the Scottish Open after missing the cut at Royal Aberdeen two years ago before finishing 77th at Gullane Links last summer.
Fitzpatrick does have happier memories from competing in Scotland – from a memorable week at the Open championship at Muirfield three years ago when he finished tied 44th to win the silver medal for the lowest amateur score.
Fitzpatrick concedes his rapid rise to near the top of the world rankings has more than surpassed his expectations.
He said: “I don’t think I ever really saw myself going professional like this.
“Winning the US Amateur gave me the chance to play in some professional events and I think making the cut at the Open championship was a really big one for me.”
A second win of the season at Castle Stuart would all but guarantee Fitzpatrick a place in the Ryder Cup and the Englishman is excited about teeing up at the Inverness course.
He added: “I haven’t played there before but I remember the ridiculous shot Phil Mickelson hit when he won at Castle Stuart in 2013.
“It is a big tournament so I’m looking forward to it.”