A win in Hilton Head would be extra special for Matt Fitzpatrick. Here’s why

Matt Fitzpatrick of England waits to play an approach shot on the 11th hole during the third round of the RBC Heritage at Harbour Town Golf Links on April 15, 2023 in Hilton Head Island, South Carolina.

Matt Fitzpatrick has a close connection to Harbour Town Golf Links.

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Hilton Head, S.C. — While Harbour Town is generally beloved as a PGA Tour venue, no one seems to love the track more than Matt Fitzpatrick.

Unlike some of the game’s other stars who have somewhat eschewed the longtime Tour stop because of its position the week after the Masters, the 28-year-old has played in Hilton Head every year since 2016, four years before he joined the PGA Tour full-time.

He said Harbour Town is his favorite course on tour after Augusta National.

“I used to come here as a kid on holiday a lot, and we just spent a lot of time here as a family,” Fitzpatrick said after his third round. “Come to this tournament as a junior and obviously played this tournament since 2016, so it’s one I’m very fond of.”

He has more reason to love the golf course after Saturday when he set Harbour Town ablaze with seven birdies and a hole-out eagle on the par-4 3rd to shoot 63 and storm from six back at the start of the day, to the 54-hole lead at the RBC Heritage. The bogey-free round is a new career low for him.

“It’s obviously a great start to the round,” Fitzpatrick said of the hole-out from the waste bunker, 149 yards out. “It puts you in great position, 3-under through 3. For me, that’s ideally the start you need on a Saturday, isn’t it. It just gets you off to a good start.”

While Fitzpatrick has won seven times on the DP World Tour and the 2022 U.S. Open, he’s still looking for his first win in a regular PGA Tour event. His first coming at Harbour Town would be special. He’s had mixed success here, finishing fourth in 2021, but also missing the cut three times including last year.

None of that takes away from what he thinks of the place.

Having won the U.S. Open at the course he won the U.S. Amateur on nine years prior, history has obviously been a great indicator for Fitzpatrick in his career. Here at Harbour Town, he doesn’t just have the memories of playing the course as a kid and enjoying the Heritage as a spectator, he has a similar history on his side as well.

Officially his first made PGA Tour cut was the 2013 Open Championship, but his first made cut in a regular tour event came at the Heritage in 2014. Still an amateur, he finished T23 that week.

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And in case you need another reason to prove how much he loves the place, every year since 2016, Fitzpatrick has sported the Iconic Harbour Town Lighthouse as his driver headcover for this week. For his first couple of years as a pro, he had it all the time, but now just breaks it for the time he returns to the place he has so many memories from.

“That’s the logo,” Fitzpatrick said. “It’s obviously something that — a lighthouse cover is different than an animal, so I thought it was different and quite fun.

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