Matt Fitzpatrick delivers ‘amazing’ first major to Caddy


Matt Fitzpatrick delivers 'amazing' first major to Caddy

BROOKLINE, Mass. – A cardinal rule in golf is that you must never cheer for an opponent to miss a putt. So, on the 18th green at Sunday’s US Open, Matt Fitzpatrick’s caddy did his best not to cheer Will Zlatoris on for missing his attempt at a birdie that would have forced a playoff.

Billy Foster admitted it wasn’t easy. He’s been a caddy for four decades, you know, and he’d never won a major championship.

As Zlatoris went slightly wide to the left, Foster admitted it was “a huge relief to see it miss”.

How large?

“I had a gorilla jump off my back,” he told the Post at the end of the championship ceremony on the 18th green. “Not a monkey, a gorilla.”

Foster stood near his husband’s bag while England’s Fitzpatrick, 27, held the US Open trophy nearby. As the 2013 US Amateur Champion at The Country Club, Fitzpatrick was the only man, along with Jack Nicklaus, to win both the amateur and US Opens on the same course.

Billy Foster, left, reacts with Matt Fitzpatrick after they won the US Open.
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And yet the first-time major winner seemed almost more excited about his caddy’s breakthrough.

“It means the world to Billy,” Fitzpatrick said. “I can’t tell you how much it means to Billy. It’s incredible. I know it’s something he’s wanted for a long, long, long time. To do that today is incredible.”

Foster had worked for Seve Ballesteros, Darren Clarke, Thomas Bjorn and Lee Westwood who parted ways with his longtime caddy in 2018, leading to Foster’s partnership with Fitzpatrick. When asked by The Post to name his biggest near misses that hurt the most, Foster cited Bjorn’s bunker disaster on the 16th hole of the Open Championship in 2013 when leader Ben Curtis gifted the Claret Jug.

“He left it in that bunker a couple of times and that really broke my heart,” Foster said. “Westy has come close on numerous occasions, such as when Phil [Mickelson] defeated Lee at the 2010 Masters and then Lee’s loss at Turnberry in 2009 when he was eliminated by one shot from the playoffs of Tom Watson and Stewart Cink.

“I’ve been a caddy for 40 years so this is just a huge relief to be honest with you.”

Billy Foster
Billy Foster had never won a major before.
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For a while on Sunday, Foster thought he had little chance of relaxing in the final on the same pitch he caddyed for Clarke in Europe’s stunning 1999 Ryder Cup defeat.

“It’s an incredible golf course and you have to think with every shot,” he said. “It’s very tough mentally. … Matthew is a great putter and he didn’t putt very well today. He potted an absolute bomb on 13, but by then he’d missed three or four five-footers, which isn’t like him. And I thought it slipped away as the two of us were chasing.

But Fitzpatrick hit back and reclaimed his lead with his birdies on 13 and 15. With a one shot lead on the 18th tee, Fitzpatrick jeopardized his chances by launching his tee shot into a dangerous bunker on the left. Foster gave him detailed advice on the second shot, standing behind the bunker and showing his man a target to aim at.

“There was a lip in front of him so I wanted him to try and go left and cut it in,” the caddy said. “I just got a line from behind the green that would miss the hill in front of him and I picked a tree that was 5 meters to the left of the green and just clipped it from the tree. And he hit a wonderful shot.”

Billy Foster (right) and Matt Fitzpatrick hold up the US Open trophy.
Billy Foster (right) and Matt Fitzpatrick hold up the US Open trophy.
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Fitzpatrick’s sweet nine-iron out of the sand gave him the easiest of two-putt pars, and then he waited for Zulatoris to hit or miss. After the miss, Foster bowed his head and grabbed his cap while his player looked at him with his hand on his hip. The emotional caddy pulled his cap down over his face, then Fitzpatrick came over, wrapped his right arm around him, called in his ear and laughed. Foster took off his hat and the caddy and the player hugged.

Foster grabbed his head in disbelief with both hands. He kissed the flag, removed the stick from the cup and looked at it with great affection.

This major championship gorilla would need to find a new home on a different back.

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