Only a limited number of notable names teed it up at last year’s Palmetto Championship. Matt Fitzpatrick did.
Not only that, but the Englishman played well. He carded rounds of 71-70-69-66 to finish T-10th and just three shots off the winning pace.
Fitzpatrick ranked fifth in the field in strokes gained off the tee (4.924) and was eighth in putting (5.301). Mix in a little better iron play this time around and he’ll be competing for the trophy.
I like the chances of that happening.
Fitzy jumped from 103rd on the PGA Tour in 2020-21 in SG approach per round (.026) to 48th in 2021-22 (.28). It was a career season for the 2022 U.S. Open champion overall. His putter remained as trusty as ever at 22nd in SG (.425), as did his short game at seventh in SG around the green (.452).
His Brookline triumph was his only victory of 2022, but he still played remarkably throughout. Fitzpatrick missed just three cuts worldwide and accrued nine top-10s, including two runner-up finishes.
One of those MCs did come last week on the DP World Tour at the Estrella Damm NA Andalucia Masters, but I don’t see that being a big harbinger for this week. Valderrama is one of the narrowest courses in the world with penal rough.
Now, Fitzpatrick comes to Congaree, home of wide landing areas and lots of short grass.
He’s also a diligent worker who comes prepared week in and week out. He’ll have notes to rely on from 2021 whereas many big names are on site for the first time.
Not to mention, he’s added more distance to his repertoire.
A big 2023 could be in store for the 28-year-old from Sheffield, but there’s still time to end 2022 with a bang.