Fitzpatrick ranked 1st in both Driving Accuracy and SG: Putting on his way to winning his second DP World Tour Championship, Dubai.
When Matt Fitzpatrick first arrived at the Earth Course in 2015, his expectations were fairly low in terms of how he would perform on a course he was told suited longer hitters that could be less worried about hitting fairways.
He ended up finishing in a tie for fourth that week, and proved it was no mere fluke when he claimed the DP World Tour Championship, Dubai title in 2017 – the year Jon Rahm triumphed as the winner of the Race to Dubai.
“I got told it was for bombers before I ever came here and I've sort of played really well here,” Fitzpatrick had said at the start of the week."
On Sunday, Fitzpatrick became the fourth two-time winner of the event.
The 26-year-old triumphed with a one stroke victory over 2020 Race to Dubai champion Lee Westwood, who had spoken earlier in the week about the misconception the course favoured longer hitters.
“I think you have to probably hit more fairways thank you think you have to hit,” said Westwood, during an in-round interview with Tim Barter earlier in the week.
Westwood, who the only player in the field to have played in all 12 editions of the DP World Tour Championship on the Earth Course, said that keeping the ball in play was key – and you only had to look at the list of former champions to see that.
“If you look at the guys who have won here in the past – Rory’s been successful, Jon Rahm, Justin Rose, Henrik Stenson, myself I guess, good drivers of the golf ball. People tend to think that you can come on here and blow it anywhere and it’s a bombers place but you’ve got to really get it in the fairway to get control.”
He assertion proved to be incredibly true with Matthew Fitzpatrick, who earned his first victory in over two years by topping the Driving Accuracy stats for the week.
Fitzpatrick hit 9/14 fairways during the final round and had a driving accuracy percentage for the week of 76.79%, which worked out as a gain of 21.19 shots over the field average in Dubai. He also gained an impressive 6.86 strokes over the field average for Driving Distance, for which he ranked 16th.
But there was more to Fitzpatrick’s performance than a good performance from the tee, highlighted by a Sunday that saw him record just 27 putts that totalled 72 feet, and a week where he was ranked 1*st* for SG: Putting.
Putting has been a strong part of his game for a long time, and Fitzpatrick said that he came into this week with a bit of added confidence on the greens thanks to seeing his putting coach Phil Kenyon for the first time in a while last week.
“I don't want to jinx it, touch wood, but I've been working with Phil Kenyon for a long time now, and I've used the same style of putter for a long time, since I was 14. I've always been a good putter statistically,” said Fitzpatrick, who admitted that he loves the fast-paced greens of this course..
“I putted poorly my last month or so in America, and I had not seen Phil for a while. Now, I spent a good bit of time with Phil last week. I'm not saying the stuff we worked on was anything I took into the tournament, but stuff to keep chipping away at.
“I don't know, maybe just having him around and going and talking to him about things just gave me a bit more confidence this week. I love these greens. I love bermudagreens and these are like glass this week. I felt very comfortable.”
The secret to his success on the greens in part belongs to his putter. He's used the same style of putter he has had since he was a child, and has worked with new sponsor Bettinardi to recreate a club that is as close to his old faithful model as possible - which is no longer available since the original company went out of business.
"They've put in some really hard work for me to try to copy the SC grooves, and yeah, they've done a fantastic job really," Fitzpatrick explained at the start of the week.
"They took a few goes because there was a few different things that needed changing, but yeah, the final product is fantastic."
Fitzpatrick also hit 13/18 greens in regulation on Sunday on his way to victory, and ranked 10th for GIR for the week. In addition, he ranked inside the top 10 for SG: Approach the Green and SG:Off the Tee and SG: Around the Green.
The statistics behind Fitzpatrick's victory
|1st||Driving Accuracy (76.79%)|
|1st||SG: Putting (1.53)|
|2nd||Sand Saves (100%)|
|7th||SG: Around the Green (0.72)|
|8th||SG: Approach the Green (1.47)|
|8th||SG: Off the Tee (0.74)|
|10th||Greens in Regulation (76.38%)|
|11th||Putts per Round (28.25)|