Through 13 holes of his final round at the Scandinavian Invitation, Matthew Fitzpatrick was five under, bogey-free and poised to claim his sixth European Tour victory. At the par-4 14th at Hills Golf & Sports Club in Gothenburg, Sweden, we got a glimpse of just how locked in the Englishman was. After finding the fairway, Fitzpatrick flushed his 164-yard approach shot, making a sound at impact you could listen to on repeat for hours. He loved it so much he gave it the club twirl/"be right" combination that usually signals that the ball is headed directly at the pin.
Then, something terrible happened, the worst thing that can happen to a shot that's hit too perfectly from one of the best players in the world. It hit the flagstick on the fly, ricocheting off the green and rolling into a collection area. "Not that right," Fitzpatrick could be heard saying as he buried his head in his hands. The full sequence can be seen below (viewer discretion is advised):
If it doesn't hit the pin, it more than likely lands softly near the hole because of the ball's trajectory, setting up a short birdie putt that could have gotten Fitzpatrick to six under on his round, 18 under for the tournament. But the absolutely brutal break led to a bogey, essentially a two-shot swing if we're assuming he makes birdie.
Here's where it gets really cruel. Had Fitzpatrick just made par on the 14th hole, that would have been enough to eventually get him in a playoff with Erik van Rooyen, who won the tournament at 19 under par. Fitzpatrick was able to recover from the bogey by going birdie-bogey-birdie-birdie to finish his round, but his six-under 64 was only enough to get him to 18 under overall, one shot out of a playoff.
The "what if" game is a dangerous one to play, especially in golf, where there are countless bad breaks and funny bounces throughout a tournament. But if Fitzpatrick wants to play it this week, we'll allow it.