Fitzpatrick leads 1-up through morning at U.S. Amateur
__By Ryan Herrington
BROOKLINE, Mass.__—England's Matt Fitzpatrick keeps trying to tell people his short game is not very good. Try telling that to Australia's Oliver Goss. As the two clashed during the opening 18 holes of the 113th U.S. Amateur's 36-hole finale, Fitzpatrick holed three putts of longer than 15 feet to take a 1-up lead with the match set to resume at 2:15 p.m.
Fitzpatrick's third lengthy putt came on the 18th hole, when the 18-year-old incoming freshman at Northwestern rolled in a 25-footer to save par that looked like it might win the hole. But then Goss made a 15-foot par saving chip from the collar in front of the green to halve the hole and keep Fitzpatrick from extending the lead.
Both competitors showed little sign of nerves as they began the match that would decide the recipient of the Havemeyer Trophy and give the winner an exemption into the British Open along with the spots they earned into the U.S. Open and Masters the previous day. Still, the opening 18 was a see-saw affair with just seven holes halved and each player holding a 1 up lead.
Unlike his semifinal match with__Corey Conners__, Fitzpatrick has been steadier tee to green, hitting 12 of 18 greens compared to just five Saturday.
While Fitzpatrick has shown flashes on the greens, holing a 35-footer for birdie on the seventh and 25-footer for birdie on the 12th, Goss has yet to have a long one fall in. The 19-year-old rising sophomore at Tennessee has held steady, hitting 10 of 15 fairways and 11 of 18 greens, but his advantage in distance off the tee has yet to seen.
Still, Goss held a 1-up lead after nine holes but saw Fitzpatrick's flat stick come to his rescue when he made a six-foot par saving putt to halve the 10th hole. Fitzpatrick then won the 11th with a par when Goss three-putted from 20 feet to square the match, followed by Fitzpatrick's long-range birdie on the 12th take back the lead.
Goss squared the match on No. 14 when he made two-putt par while Fitzpatrick finally failed to get up and down from left of the greening, missed an eight-footer to save par. But then Fitzpatrick took back the lead on 15 when he stuck his approach to six feet and had the birdie conceded when Goss went long with his approach and couldn't get up and down for par.
No matter who wins, the champion will be the sixth international player to claim the title since 2003 but the first since 2009. Fitzpatrick would be the first Englishman to win since__Harold Hilton__ in 1911 while Goss would be the first Australian since Nick Flanagan in 2003.