BMW leader was hitting. Then caddie said 1 thing pros don’t want to hear

Billy Foster, Matt Fitzpatrick

Billy Foster, left, and Matt Fitzpatrick on Saturday on the 18th hole at Olympia Fields.

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Matt Fitzpatrick, your BMW Championship leader entering the final round, was spraying the ball all over the yard. Billy Foster saw it, too. 

If you’re familiar with him, you may already know where this is going. 

Remember the Open Championship? And Royal Liverpool? And its new par-3 17th, with danger at every turn? Foster had thoughts on that

“Unfortunately I think this Open Championship could be remembered for a calamity that happened,” Foster told Golf Monthly. “There was nothing wrong with the little par-3 they had before, and they’ve created a monstrosity, in my opinion.

“The green is very small. If you land it a foot short, it rolls back into a coffin that’s underground, so deep. This is challenging the best golfers in the world that will be making 6s, 7s and 8s.”

There’s more. There’s this story about Foster, as told a few years ago by Lee Westwood, his former boss. 

“One of my favorite stories Billy tells is from the Ryder Cup in 2002 at the Belfry,” Westwood said on the Off the Hook podcast. “First morning, you get the first morning nerves, don’t you? So they’re all on the putting green outside the Belfry there. And Billy decides he needs to — he needs to have a number two. So there’s a toilet just inside the door of the clubhouse so off he trots.

“And Darren Clark and Thomas Bjorn, they’re playing Tiger Woods and somebody else, can’t remember who it was [Azinger]. He goes to sit into — there’s two traps, and he goes and sits in trap one, pulls his pants down, looks to the side, there’s no toilet roll. So quickly pulls ’em back up, goes around into trap number two. Next thing, he sat down like that, and he’s wiping his backside, and he hears this ‘tick, tick, tick’ — of spikes — on the tile floor. Now there’s not many people who wear spiked shoes anymore in those days, so he knows who it is. It’s Tiger, isn’t it? 

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“Tiger’s felt the need to go before [laughs]. So he says, ‘Should I tell him or not? No, I’ll not tell him.’ So he lets him do his business and then look to the side, no toilet roll and let out a little whimper, like, oh no. So Billy says, ‘Shall I leave him?’ So he said to himself, ‘Shall I leave him, or shall I help a man out?’ 

“So he unrolls a few sheets, puts it under the door like that, and he takes it off him, and he goes, ‘Europe, one up.’” 

In short, the longtime caddie tells it like few do. Which brings us back to Fitzpatrick, his current player. 

Normally a good driver, the 2022 U.S. Open winner hasn’t been this year. Two seasons ago, he was ranked 15th on the PGA Tour in Strokes Gained: Off the Tee. Last season, he was 10th. This season, he was 58th. Things started to slide after his win in April at the RBC Heritage. Fitzpatrick was frustrated. 

“After winning Harbour Town, feeling like — I felt I kind of got a lot more out of my irons all of a sudden in two weeks at Augusta and Harbour Town,” Fitzpatrick said Saturday at the BMW. “They just felt so much better than they had been probably since the U.S. Open. I felt I could really kick on then.

“Then yeah, just gradually started driving it worse really. That’s a strength of mine, so just not been comfortable with that for the last three months.”

Which now brings us back to Foster. 

And some words a pro doesn’t want to hear from their caddie. 

“Yeah, it’s disappointing. It’s disappointing, there’s no doubt about it,” Fitzpatrick said Thursday. “There’s not really much to add to it. It’s disappointing. I wanted it to be better. I felt like U.S. Open was successful, Masters was successful, particularly U.S. Open with the way I drove the ball. 

“Billy said to me, it’s like — with a few curse words in there — how the hell have you finished top 20 in the U.S. Open driving the ball like me. That’s what Billy said.

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“That’s what it feels like. Feels like I’ve been hitting driver like Billy.”

We’ll refrain from comment on Foster’s game. But what did Fitzpatrick feel about the tough love? Did he laugh? Did he get angry?

“A bit of both,” he said Saturday. “I laughed. I laughed. But 17th at U.S. Open, two years ago I would have been delighted with it, but this year it was kind of like well, hit the driver anything like, and really could have contended again. 

“Yeah, that was definitely disappointing.”

The story ends well, though. 

Fitzpatrick, as noted at the start, shared the BMW Championship lead entering the final round. He and coach Mike Walker had tried a few fixes. A shorter swing clicked. Entering Sunday, Fitzpatrick was 32nd in the 50-player field in SG: Driving. 

He was content. 

“I just felt like it was an immediate difference when I was doing it,” Fitzpatrick said. “I felt like we tried a bunch of other different things and I wouldn’t really seeing any difference, feeling any difference, whereas now it definitely feels different, which is good.”

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