Tournament: Horizon Irish Open
DP World Tour Rankings: Tournament 22 of 45 events
Venue: Mount Juliet Estate, Thomastown, County Kilkenny, Ireland
Prize Fund: $6,000,000
Hashtag: #HorizonIrishOpen #DPWT
Alex Fitzpatrick will follow in his brother Matt’s footsteps when the Englishman makes his professional debut this week at the Horizon Irish Open, the same tournament in which the recently-crowned U.S. Open Champion entered the paid ranks in 2014.
The Fitzpatrick family made global headlines less than three weeks ago when the older of two brothers, Matt, claimed a maiden Major title at The Country Club in Brookline, prompting emotional scenes on the 18th green with Alex, along with their parents Russell and Sue.
Having watched his brother make history in Boston, 23-year-old Alex is now ready to make his own mark on the professional game as he plays his first event as a professional at Mount Juliet Estate – following an impressive amateur career which included Walker Cup appearances in 2019 and 2021.
He has already had some experience among the professional elite – making the cut as an amateur at last year’s Cazoo Open supported by Gareth Bale, before playing at the PGA TOUR’s Valspar Championship three months ago.
Matt Fitzpatrick claimed a share of 29th position when he made his own professional debut at the island of Ireland’s national open eight years ago, kicking off a career which has thus far yielded a Major title among seven other DP World Tour victories.
Australia’s Lucas Herbert will return to Mount Juliet Estate this week to defend the title he won in wire-to-wire fashion last year, while Tyrrell Hatton will be targeting his first win of the 2022 season in an event at which he has already claimed two top five finishes.
Alex Fitzpatrick: “I found out about the invite probably two or three weeks ago, I was incredibly excited.
“So obviously it’s funny, following in your brother’s footsteps but sometimes that isn’t a bad thing, especially the route that he’s gone. Hopefully it might open a few doors, but if it doesn’t, I still have to play good golf and if I don’t play good golf, then doors will be shut. Just all about enjoying myself and working hard and hopefully get some good results.
“We’re different in a lot of ways. Our games are completely different. I would say he’s a great driver of the golf ball and a great putter, and I would say my iron and short game would be better than his, which is hard to say when he’s just won the U.S. Open. I think if we were one player, we would be pretty good as well.
“Mainly he tells me all the time, “Hit it straight and you’ll be just fine.” If I can start doing the same stuff he does, then hopefully I’ll be fine.
“I’ve got a great caddie this week in Martin, one of Billy Foster’s friends. Incredibly knowledgeable and incredibly funny as well. So I noticed he was a Leeds fan, so giving each other a bit of stick about that.”
Lucas Herbert: “It’s pretty sweet to be back. Just getting around the property, seeing it all again, bringing back memories from last year, it’s pretty nice.
“I just went to play the back nine now and hit a lot of the shots that I sort of remember hitting last year.
“I feel like I’ve watched the highlights so many times; all the pins are right there in the back of my memory so distinctly. It’s been kind of nice to get back and just have a bit of a stroll down memory
“This year it’s just finding that consistency has been tough. I feel I turned a little bit of a corner. The game feels like I have the ability to hit the shots. It’s just putting everything and the structure in place around it to produce a little bit more of that consistency. I think we’ve turned a corner.
“Most of our practice round today we were discussing the crowd, how excited, especially around 14 green, how excited they were getting.
“They are always really respectful. Obviously they are getting pretty vocal for me last year but I feel like they are really respectful. They knew when to clap and when not to and in terms of what a good shot looked like.
“This week and the next two weeks in Scotland and The Open, everyone on Tour knows they are some of the best crowds on Tour. They appreciate good golf when they see it. It’s something I’m definitely looking forward to having around again this year.”
Tyrrell Hatton: “The course seems good. Obviously had quite a bit of rain over the last few days so it’s pretty soft out there, which is to be expected. It should be a fun week.
“The U.S. Open and the week prior wasn’t great. I did a bit of work with my dad last week to get back to how I should be swinging it. We’ll see come Thursday if I’m able to play a bit better, but I’ll try my best.
“That was obviously amazing watching Fitzy win there. Obviously delighted for him and his family, his whole team, it’s brilliant. It would be nice if we could kind of follow in his footsteps now.
“I’d say it definitely motivated me last week out there and try and sort my swing out again rather than just going through the motions.
“If I can have a good week here, hopefully that leads into a good week at the Scottish and The Open. Like I said, we’ll be trying our best to play well.”