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Matt Fitzpatrick in action on Wednesday at Hazeltine
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Europe

Age just a number for focused Fitzpatrick

Although rookie Matt Fitzpatrick heads into his Ryder Cup debut at the tender age of 22, the Englishman is not fazed by the prospect of taking on the American team and Hazeltine National Golf Club with the tag of being the youngest player at 2016 Ryder Cup.

The Englishman, who already has two European Tour victories to his name, has proven since bursting onto the European Tour scene in 2015 that despite his friendly nature, he is one of the fiercest competitors out there. 

“I know I'm the youngest, but, like I say, it doesn't really enter my mind. Age is just a number. I've already had a few comments about my age already this week, but I'm used to it.”

As well as being treated to a visit from famous magician Dynamo on Tuesday evening, Team Europe also received a motivational talk from Irish rugby legend Paul O’Connell.

Fitzpatrick, who is determined to make the most of his first Ryder Cup experience, clearly took a lot away from O’Connell’s talk.

“It was really inspirational,” he said.

“The big thing that I took out of it personally was talking about owning the moment and that was big for me. You've got turning points during a round of golf and you have to take advantage of it. 

“If your opponent hits it and misses the green and faces a tricky up-and-down, you've got to stick one in close and put the pressure on, and just hole the putts at the right time, which I think is important.”

The Sheffield native’s meteoric rise in golf has been so fast that even Fitzpatrick himself admits it has taken him by surprise.

It also means that the 2013 U.S. Amateur champion is now playing alongside many of his idols – players who not so long ago Fitzpatrick was chasing for autographs.

“I think I actually have nearly everyone's on the team,” he said.

“Maybe not Woody or Sully or Willett actually. They are all at home somewhere and I know Sergio (Garcia) this year signed a golf ball for me when I played with him in Qatar. He was giving one out to a little kid and I was like, I'll have one of those if you've got one to spare.

“Then I was lucky enough to play with Rory (McIlroy) at the Masters in 2014, and he signed my yardage book, so that's a pretty special one. Same goes for Ian Poulter, actually.”