‘It’s going to be a strange environment’: Matt Fitzpatrick finally obtains visa to enter the US as the PGA Tour resumes next month with the Colonial Tournament in Texas
- Matt Fitzpatrick finally boarded a flight from Heathrow to Miami on Saturday
- A group of international players had been kept dangling over visa waivers
- The players must now complete a 14-day quarantine on American soil
- The PGA tour resumes next month with the Colonial Tournament in Texas
Matt Fitzpatrick finally exhaled a sigh of relief after boarding a flight from Heathrow to Miami on Saturday.
From Fitzpatrick in Sheffield to Justin Rose in the Bahamas, a group of international players had been kept dangling by the White House over the visa waivers necessary to enter the United States before the PGA Tour resumes next month.
The players must first complete a 14-day quarantine on American soil — which meant they had to be on flights by today to make it to Texas for the week of the Colonial tournament, beginning on June 11.
Matt Fitzpatrick finally exhaled a sigh of relief after boarding a flight from Heathrow to Miami
On Friday morning, there was still no news. ‘It’s not important in the grand scheme of things, but I’ve got to admit I’m panicking a bit,’ said Fitzpatrick. ‘I’d really like to start playing again.’
With almost no time to spare, the good news finally arrived. Fittingly for a 25-year-old with no ties, Fitzpatrick booked himself on the first flight heading west.
No wonder he’s keen. Fitzpatrick was on a run of 18 events without a missed cut, including four runner-up finishes and eight top 10s to be ranked 25th in the world.
The golfer was left dangling by the White House over visas needed to enter the United States
‘I look at the first three events and I think they offer me a real chance to get a win, which is really the only thing missing,’ he said. ‘Colonial is a strategic course that suits my game, while the second event, the Heritage Classic, is one of my favourites.’
His veteran caddy, Billy Foster, will not be there, however, for those early events. ‘It made no sense for a family man like Billy to stay in the US until October, as I’m planning to,’ he said.
‘The quarantine restrictions mean you can’t fly back and forth as we usually do. Hopefully, he’ll be able to join me in late July.’
Quarantine won’t prove a problem for Fitzpatrick, in his rental apartment in the top pros’ enclave of West Palm Beach, Florida.
‘I can practise and go out to eat — that’s basically all I ever do in America anyway,’ he said, drily.
The PGA tour will resume next month with the Colonial Tournament taking place in Texas
His game was in decent nick last week, despite last playing in March. He took on brother Alex, a Walker Cup player himself, at their home club Hallam. ‘I don’t like to brag but I beat him rather comfortably,’ he said. ‘I actually stood on the 18th tee needing an eagle for a 59, only to take six. But 62 was still my lowest score there.’
Courtesy of his favourite football team, Sheffield United, Fitzpatrick had his first coronavirus test last week. To complete Friday’s good news, the test came back negative.
‘It will be the first test of many, in what’s going to be a very strange environment,’ he said. ‘It’ll be like going back to my amateur days playing without crowds. But we can’t complain. People are going to enjoy tuning in to live sport again and the players will want to put on a show.’
One of Fitzpatrick’s goals this year is to make Europe’s Ryder Cup team and he is currently in one of the automatic spots.
One of his goals this year is to make Europe’s Ryder Cup team and he currently has a spot
‘Who knows how all that’s going to work out, or whether the Ryder Cup will even be played,’ he said.
‘I’d definitely be one of those who’d rather it was postponed for a year than played without fans.
‘But if they tell me it’s going ahead in September, I’ll be there.’
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