By Tony Jimenez
WATFORD, England (Reuters) – Opportunity knocked when Matt Fitzpatrick secured a maiden win at the British Masters 12 months ago and he is still pinching himself at the way golfing doors have opened since then.
The 22-year-old Englishman, who could easily pass for a teenager with his boyish looks, has played in every major this season and the icing on the cake of his campaign arrived when he made his Ryder Cup debut earlier this month.
“I can’t believe it’s a year to the day today,” Fitzpatrick told a news conference on Tuesday ahead of the start of his title defense at The Grove on the outskirts of London.
“It’s gone so fast and since winning a lot has changed. Lots of doors have opened and I managed to squeeze into the top-50 at the end of the year … it’s almost a bit difficult to comprehend.”
Fitzpatrick announced himself to the golfing world with an impressive wire-to-wire victory at the 2015 British Masters, a win that arrived ahead of schedule.
“It was massive, it came a lot quicker than I anticipated,” he said. “I remember speaking to (manager) Chubby Chandler after I won and we were both saying it wasn’t really on our radar to win.
“It just happened and it was nice to just tick off a goal. It was a special week.”
Fitzpatrick underlined his status as one of the rising talents of the game by finishing tied seventh at the U.S. Masters in April before securing his second title at the Nordea Masters in Stockholm in June.
He then achieved another career ambition two weeks ago by making his Ryder Cup debut as Europe slipped to a 17-11 defeat against the United States.
“It was an amazing experience,” said Fitzpatrick who lost both matches he was involved in at Hazeltine National.
“Just being around the atmosphere and the pressure that’s involved on the first tee … it was unbelievable. There’s nowhere else that gives you an atmosphere like that. It was fantastic.”
The British Masters starts on Thursday.
(Editing by Martyn Herman)