Matthew Fitzpatrick continued to make a statement at the Omega European Masters, strengthening his grip on a Ryder Cup place.
Fitzpatrick stayed on track to make it a hat-trick of wins at Crans-sur-Sierre Golf Club as he followed his opening 63 with a five-under-par 65 to take a one-shot lead into the weekend at the Omega European Masters.
The Englishman was champion here in 2017 and 2018 and continued his love affair with the picturesque venue on his 29th birthday as he moved to 12-under-par ahead of Swede Alexander Björk, who carded a 64.
Fitzpatrick told the media that despite the lead he was disappointed with his back nine (the front nine) but admits that he’s happy with where his game is at.
“Again, the first nine I played fantastic. Just carried on where I left off yesterday. Front nine I didn’t give myself too many chances (started on the 10th). Disappointed to only shoot level par on the front given the scoring opportunities, but I’m in a good position going into the weekend”, the Sheffield man said.
Despite being second and in the final group, Swede Bjork is still disappointed with his putting and says there is still work to be done,
“I don’t think the putting is that good, but it’s been solid. When you have that feeling that is good, the hole doesn’t feel like a bucket but last week I found a few things that were working. It’s definitely been better than it was before the break but still feels like there is a little bit to work on”.
It’s a family affair in Switzerland as Fitzpatrick’s younger brother Alex shot a second consecutive five-under-par 65 to sit 10-under-par and in a tie for third after his score was matched by Frenchman Romain Langasque who is also two shots off the lead.
The younger Fitzpatrick brother said that he’s relishing the family battle over the weekend.
”He’s my brother but also a competitor, I’m still trying to beat him. I shot five under and didn’t gain any ground today, so that was a little frustrating. But it would be good. I’ve played a little bit of golf with him in competitive events now, so it would be fun to go against him”, he said.
“We played Dunhill Links last year together on Saturday. It’s weird competing for a tournament. We never did it as juniors. I was asking Nicolai if he and Rasmus did it, he said they did as juniors, but they are the same age and we’re four years apart so we’ve never experienced it before”, older brother Matt said when asked about the sibling battle that lies ahead.
A tie for seventh with one other or better will see Matt Fitzpatrick make the European Ryder Cup team via the World Points List, while there are still four players who can mathematically qualify through the European Points List this week.
One of those is Adrian Meronk, who needs a tie for second with one other to have a chance and, while he shared the lead at one point on day two, a bogey, double bogey finish to his round of six-under-par 64 – after losing a ball off the tee on the last – left him at nine under alongside Ludvig Aberg and Renato Paratore.
His playing partner Robert MacIntyre is still on course for a place in Luke Donald’s team after making a vital up and down on the group’s dramatic visit to the 18th to make the cut at three under par.
All three Irish player made the cut in the Swiss mountains with Padraig Harrington and Tom McKibbin the best of the Irish on five-under-par followed by John Murphy on four-under.
Harrington and McKibbin get their third round underway at 9.40am and 9.50am local time, 8.40am and 8.50am respectively, with Murphy getting underway an hour earlier.
Fitzpatrick and Bjork get underway at 13.30pm local time, 12.30pm irish time with brother Alex in the penultimate group alongside Langasque.