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US Open - Golf: Five Things We Learned

Matt Fitzpatrick joined the ranks of golf’s elite on Sunday as he held his nerve to clinch his maiden Major title at the US Open, with the potential of more to come from the Englishman.

The 27-year-old secured a one-shot victory at Brookline, holding off some of the sport's biggest names to become only the third Englishman to win the US Open since 1924.

The Sheffield-born star shot a two-under 68 on Sunday to close on six-under at a course where he became the US Amateur champion back in 2013 and, having broken his Major duck, Fitzpatrick's future looks bright.

He's now 20/1 to claim the final Major of the year, the Open Championship and there are plenty of reasons to think he'll be in contention for the Claret Jug come July.

1. Added length the last piece of the puzzle

An eight-time winner on the European Tour, Fitzpatrick had struggled to translate that winning form into a Major tilt before this year. A share of seventh at the Masters in 2016 was the best he'd managed in the past with his lack of length from the tee leaving him hamstrung.

To aid his driving distance Fitzpatrick has worked with a speed training system called The Stack and the results speak for themselves. Having been outside the top 100 for driving distance on the PGA Tour last season, he's now up to 63rd and he outdid himself at the US Open, where he was 16th.

Fitzpatrick averaged 309.1 yards from the tee at Brookline, even out-driving playing partner Dustin Johnson on occasions, and his long-game improvement marks him out as a contender for the Open.

The 7,305 yards Old Course at St Andrews is a demanding driving track, but one Fitzpatrick, who has listed the links venue amongst his top five favourite places to play, now looks well suited to.

2. History a strong indicator of future success

Fitzpatrick was the only player in the field at the US Open to have won at Brookline previously and that knowledge of the challenging Massachusetts course proved invaluable to his title tilt.

He claimed his experience at the venue and familiarity with the surrounding area gave him an edge, and the results speak for themselves.

There's often a debate when looking at potential tournament winners whether course or recent form is more important, and while the latter has to be taken into consideration, the history books aren't a bad guide either.

Looking ahead to the Open, Louis Oosthuizen at 40/1 is likely to prove a popular pick, having won the Claret Jug at St Andrews in 2010, before missing out via a play-off to Zach Johnson the last time the Major was staged at the Scottish venue in 2015.

Tiger Woods, despite his recent fitness issues, is bound to attract plenty of interest too at 50/1, having twice on at St Andrews, in 2000 and 2005.

Former Open champions Rory McIlroy, who is the 10/1 favourite for this year's edition, and Jordan Spieth, 22/1, could also be worth keeping on side given their record at the Major and at St Andrews.

3. Course design makes Major championships

Major championships are supposed to be tough to win and Brookline certainly didn't make it easy for Fitzpatrick and co, with only nine players finishing under par.

Although not the longest course, it still required plenty of length and accuracy from the tee, while rewarding those players who demonstrated good course management.

With that in mind, and Brookline being located just seven miles from the Atlantic Ocean, the US Open venue shares some similarities with St Andrews' Old Course. However, the difference between the two is that this year's Open venue needs the wind to become a real test.

Players have blitzed the course in the past, with Woods finishing on 19-under in 2000, but if the famously temperamental Scottish weather does bear its teeth, competitors face a tough test.

4. Scheffler fully deserves number one status

What a year it has been for Scottie Scheffler so far and it nearly got even better at Brookline at the weekend.

Having won five times on the PGA Tour this season, including capturing the Green Jacket at the Masters, the 25-year-old has proven he knows how to get it done and looked ready to strike in Sunday's final round.

Scheffler birdied four of his opening six holes to move to the top of the leaderboard early on the final day and although he would eventually finish one shot behind Fitzpatrick, it was another excellent performance from the New Jersey native.

A final round of 67 was another demonstration of Scheffler peaking at the right time of a tournament and a second major can’t be far away with the American 14/1 for the Open.

5. Zalatoris' putting woes not a Major factor

Joining Scheffler in a share of second was Will Zalatoris, who played his part in a pulsating final round as he just fell short of a maiden Major title.

It's the third time in the last two years that Zalatoris has taken the runner-up prize at a Major, thanks largely to his putter continuously catching fire at the big four events.

Heading into the US Open, the 25-year-old ranked 160th on the greens on the PGA Tour this season, but got his flat stick cooking at Brookline.

He ended the third Major of the year ranked fourth on the greens, having also been in the top ten for putting at the 2022 Masters and US PGA Championship.

It would appear that he prefers the tougher, undulating greens to the basic PGA Tour set-up and that marks him out as another contender who could challenge at the Open at 20/1.

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