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Tuesday, October 13, 2015

That Crazy Thing Fitzpatrick Does

European Tour rookie Matthew Fitzpatrick was the 2013 US Amateur champ, and he got his first win at the British Masters this past weekend. He jumped up to 59th in the OWGR -- making him the youngest player in the Top100 -- and 12th in the Race to Dubai with the win. Not bad for a 21-year-old!

He's not incredibly long; his 2015 average is just short of 288 yards. Still, he makes good use of that distance, as he manages to hit just over 71% of his fairways and nearly 76% of his GIR.

But Matt has one of the more unusual moves you'll see in a golf swing. This slow-mo video from teacher Rob Chruszcz shows the swing in more detail, but I've isolated a few key frames in the picture farther down in this post.

At address Matthew doesn't look very different from anybody else. In fact, he doesn't look that different when his hands are at waist level or at shoulder level either. But take a look at that top of the backswing position!

Sequence of Matthew Fitzpatrick's swing from address to top of backswing

As you can see if you watch the video, Matthew uses his hands a lot more than most players. He loops the club at the top, not only "laying the club off" (which makes the club face point up to the sky like Dustin Johnson) but also dipping the club head way below parallel, then dropping his hands on the way down to get back on plane.

It's interesting to compare Zach Johnson with Matthew. Both turn very rapidly as they bring the club down to hit the ball, but Zach hits the ball with his right hand -- that is, Zach's right hand is moving a bit faster than his left at impact, causing him to "fling" the club head at the ball and uncock his wrists. If you look at a photo of Zach at impact, the club shaft and his left arm form a fairly straight line.

Matthew, by comparison, swings both hands at roughly the same speed, which causes him to retain some wrist cock. His hands are still ahead of the ball when the club head makes contact. However, the two players are almost the same height and drive it about the same distance -- Matthew is maybe 5 yards longer -- and their accuracy is about the same.

It will be interesting to see how Matthew does going forward, since he's on track to qualify for all the majors in 2016. (He only needs to make the Top50 in the OWGR to do that.) It's clear that loop is natural to his swing and he's very good at repeating it. Let's hope that nobody tries to change it and ruins his game.

1 comment:

  1. MF is now 59th