‘That is not right’: Matt Fitzpatrick says his equipment is hindering him at Masters

Matt Fitzpatrick

Matt Fitzpatrick in the first round of the 2024 Masters.

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AUGUSTA, Ga. — At the Players Championship last month, Matt Fitzpatrick revealed some startling news: The 2022 U.S. Open champion had played all of 2023 and the first couple of months of this year with four extra grams of weight in his Titleist TSi3 driver that he did not know was there, the result of an equipment fitting gaffe early last year.

It’s a long story, but in short, Fitzpatrick said, the hidden mass was causing him to over-rotate his clubhead and tug his tee shots. “We were just very confused swing-wise,” Fitzpatrick said at Sawgrass. “Turns out, take the weight out of the top of the driver, and I think since Phoenix is when I’ve taken it out, I’ve driven it a lot better.”

For at least a few starts, the gear fix didn’t always translate into better finishes — after a T15 at the Phoenix Open, Fitzpatrick went MC-T21-MC in his next three starts — but he has shown better form in the past month, finishing 5th at the Players and T10 at the Texas Open just last week.

Which brings us to this week and Fitzpatrick’s appearance in the 88th Masters.

Fitzpatrick has an excellent record at Augusta National, missing the cut just once in nine starts and twice finishing in the top 10, including a T10 a year ago. In the breezy first round on Thursday, Fitzpatrick and his opponents faced an Augusta National with some teeth. Distance control is always essential on this course, but when the wind swirls, precision becomes even more paramount.

Witness Fitzpatrick’s 18th hole, where he arrived on the tee at two under for the round. After an excellent drive up the left side of the fairway, Fitzpatrick had only a short iron into the green on the uphill par-4. His approach to a back-right pin appeared to be a simple enough shot, but Fitzpatrick airmailed his ball into the patrons seated behind the green, missing his mark by 10 or 15 yards. He looked confounded as he muttered something to caddie Billy Foster. The overcooked iron led to a bogey and an opening 71 that has him six back of leader Bryson DeChambeau.

“Yeah, I felt like I played good,” Fitzpatrick said after his round before offering, unprompted, “Just having a couple more equipment issues.”

More issues? “What now?” a reporter asked.

“My short irons just do not want to spin,” he said. “So you get some that I hit and ball just goes forever. Prime example on the last there, just wants to go forever. You don’t know when you’re going to get them.”

Fitzpatrick, who’s famously analytical about every element of his game, plays Ping Blueprint S irons and a Titleist Pro V1x ball, but he does not have a contract with Ping or any other club manufacturer, meaning he can and does play any clubs he wants. He said he has been struggling with his short-iron control for “probably for the last two, three weeks.”

He added: “The numbers are kind of OK, but there is only so much you can do with the set I’ve got. I like the set. I have actually been hitting them well. Just having two or three a round where it’s, like, that is not right.”

On such an exacting course, Fitzpatrick was asked: How concerned is he about his iron dilemma?  

“It’s not ideal,” he said. “Fortunately, most of the trouble is short, so if it is going miles, as least you’re going long. Not ideal, but, yeah, like I say, I’m not really sure what I can do about it.”

In the first round, Fitzpatrick hit 11 of 14 fairways but only 10 greens. He birdied his way through Amen Corner, going 3-2-4 on 11, 12 and 13, but gave all those strokes back with bogeys on 14, 17 and 18.

Fitzpatrick said despite the challenges of the wind, the course was still gettable thanks to the overnight rain that softened the greens.

“I’m a little deflated with one under,” he said. “but still it’s first round and long way to go.”

On the course, for sure, but perhaps also with his launch monitor on the range.

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