Matt Fitzpatrick took one look at Southern Hills and declared the US PGA Championship venue was “not really my cup of tea”.
Four days and two competitive rounds later, the world number 17 might have to change his tune after playing his way into contention for a first major title in Tulsa.
Fitzpatrick overcame a swirling wind to add a second round of 69 to his opening 68 and lie just three shots off the clubhouse lead held by 2017 champion Justin Thomas.
Asked what he thought of Southern Hills when he arrived on Monday, Fitzpatrick said: “My dad called me and he was asking how is the course looking and, no offence to the PGA here, but I was like, it’s a typical PGA, it’s long and tough and just not really my cup of tea.
“(But) this year I’ve got a lot longer and it showed a lot the first two days with the clubs that I’ve been hitting into holes. Hopefully it’s a sign things are changing a little bit for me and (will) open a few more doors on other golf courses.”
A tie for seventh in the 2016 Masters is Fitzpatrick’s only top 10 in 27 previous majors and the 27-year-old admitted he gave himself no chance of contending at a number of courses used for the game’s four biggest tournaments.
But he is relishing next month’s US Open at Brookline, the Boston course where he won the US Amateur title in 2013.
“I’ll be honest, I think probably 2016, 2017, 2018, maybe my world ranking was probably better than where my game was,” he added.
“I think probably that’s why I never really kind of challenged, hovering around the top 50.
“I think the last three years I feel like I’ve been closer. I feel like this is the best I’ve played ever in my career this year so far.
“I play well at places that suit me or I enjoy playing, and I think some of the places that we go don’t necessarily do that for me. That’s just the way it is.
“I look back at Harding Park (2020 US PGA) and there was no way in hell I ever had a chance there. I’m hoping in four weeks’ time that I’m going to have every chance and everyone else is going to be terrible. We’ll see.
“Certainly in the last few years I feel like I’m getting closer to not necessarily challenging for a major, but at least putting myself in contention a little bit more often.”