Matt Fitzpatrick and Charley Hull were already well known among British golf fans long before the biggest wins of their career last Sunday.
However, while both players were already firmly established on their tours, respective victories at the DP World Championship and CME World Tour Championship represent a ‘changing of the guard’ for English golf – a change that has been coming for a while.
In men’s golf, the likes of Lee Westwood, Justin Rose, Ian Poulter and Luke Donald have been household names for over a decade.
While these guys will no doubt still have ambitions to challenge for major championships in the future, Fitzpatrick could become England’s answer to Rory McIlroy.
The 22-year-old from Sheffield was always one to watch following his impressive performance as an amateur at the 2013 Open Championship – where he won the Silver Medal. However, it wasn’t until his breakthrough at the British Masters in October 2015 that he really started turning heads.
2016 had already been a relatively successful one for Fitzpatrick before last weekend – picking up a top ten at the Masters, a win at the Nordea Masters in June and qualifying for his first Ryder Cup. His one-shot win at the DP World Championship, though, had similarities to McIlroy’s first professional victory.
Not only was the Northern Irishman’s win also in Dubai, but he also got up and down from a bunker on the 72nd hole to beat an English golfer, Justin Rose, by one shot.
That was back in 2009. McIlroy went on to pick up his first win in the U.S. one year later at Quail Hollow and his first major at the U.S. Open in 2011. Since Congressional, he has since won a further 19 times worldwide at the age of 27 – not a bad benchmark for the likes of Fitzpatrick to chase.
It is always easy to heap praise on the winner of an event, but Tyrrell Hatton did everything but win in Dubai last weekend – leading for most of the back nine on Sunday before a final-hole bogey.
I first saw Tyrrell play in person at the 2010 Open Championship. Then an amateur, he missed the cut by nine shots in testing conditions at St. Andrews. Six years later, it seemed fitting that he got his revenge on the Old Course by picking up his first European Tour win at the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship.
Hatton finished four strokes ahead of Ross Fisher and Richard Sterne (Credit: Ian Walton/Getty Images)
The 25-year-old is one of eight English golfers in the world’s top 50, and England is now by far the second-best represented country in the rankings behind the USA.
Excellent representation in the men’s professional game is never likely to be replicated in the women’s, however, given the dominance of Asian and American players. But what England may lack in quantity, has certainly been made up in quality in the form of Charley Hull.
The Englishwoman was probably best known for taking down Paula Creamer 5&4 in the 2013 Solheim Cup singles; until she sprung back into the frame at the ANA Inspiration in April – finishing just one shot behind the eventual winner Lydia Ko.
Hull’s bogey-free final round of 66 at the CME Group Tour Championship last Sunday gave her a first LPGA Tour win and ended a 12-year wait for an English winner on the circuit. She also became the first British LPGA Tour winner since Scotland’s Catriona Matthew won the Lorena Ochoa Invitational in 2011.
It’s easy to forget that Hull is only 20 years old. In a sport where the world number one is just 19 and seven of the world’s top ten are under the age of 25, it has become the norm for LPGA players to win young.
With that being said, Charley has an ever-growing fan base in the U.K. and it is unlikely to be long until she secures her first major.
As an Englishman I will be the first to admit that we don’t have the best golfing weather, however, we are blessed with an excellent amateur and coaching set up that keeps churning out world class players.
It’s an exciting time to be a golf fan that’s for sure. Bring on 2017.