Matthew Fitzpatrick to play through neck injury at Pebble Beach

Matthew Fitzpatrick to play through neck injury at Pebble Beach

4:54 p.m. ET

Paolo UggettiESPN

PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. — Defending US Open champion Matt Fitzpatrick said on Wednesday he’s been struggling with a neck injury that’s kept him from full health as he prepares to compete in three back-to-back PGA Tour events, starting with this week’s Pebble Beach Pro. -A m.

“I hurt my neck last Saturday. So it’s still not 100%,” Fitzpatrick said. “I can still play, but I don’t have full speed or anything like that.”

With designated events coming up at the Waste Management Open in Phoenix and the Genesis Invitational at the Riviera Country Club, Fitzpatrick said he views this week’s event in Pebble Beach as a “warm-up” to see where his game stands.

“I’ve had it on and off over the years,” Fitzpatrick, 28, said of the neck injury, which he described as “stiffness” on the right side. “But I don’t know exactly how I did it. Just crossing the ball is just a bit more difficult than normal.”

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Last year, Fitzpatrick rose through the ranks and won the US Open, thanks in part to a concerted and well-documented effort to add speed to his driver. The 28-year-old ranked in the top 10 for hits off the tee last season.

Due to his status as one of the top 20 players in the Player Impact Program (PIP), Fitzpatrick is required to play in all but one of the tour’s 17 designated events this season, which include all four major tournaments and have increased the prize purses of approximately $20 million.

“I think the big thing that’s been talked about a lot with the players is that we kind of want to play less,” Fitzpatrick said. “I think there’s too much golf at any level. To have 53 tournaments in a cycle of 52 a year is ridiculous. It’s too much golf.

“I just think people probably need a break. They could be watching golf every week from January to December. I think that’s why I think having less of it, but bringing together more of the best players, is obviously the way to go.”

The addition of the Tour’s designated events is part of a revamped schedule in the face of poaching LIV Golf players from the PGA Tour. Another aspect of the changing landscape of golf is the “strategic alliance” between the PGA Tour and the DP World Tour, which was strengthened last year and resulted in the co-sanctioning of a handful of European events and 10 circuit maps for the top DP World Tour. players each season.

On the idea that the DP World Tour is now a feeder tour for the PGA, Fitzgerald acknowledged that has been the case for about a decade given the influx of money the tour has had. He said more needed to be done to justify the alliance. This season there are no designated events outside of American soil, which Fitzpatrick said Wednesday he would like to see.

“I think the strategic alliance is good,” Fitzpatrick said. “But at the same time, I feel like Europe probably needs to do a bit more from the PGA Tour. I think it’s probably a bit one-sided. We like to say, like ‘develop the game’ …I think it would be really nice to have events there rather than just being like, ‘Oh, well, the European tour does that, so we don’t need to bother.'”

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