Omega European Masters: Matt Fitzpatrick defends title with play-off win

Golf
Matt Fitzpatrick: The 24-year-old is presented with the Omega European Masters title
Matt Fitzpatrick: The 24-year-old is presented with the Omega European Masters title

A review of the action in Switzerland, as Matt Fitzpatrick became the first man since Seve Ballesteros to successfully defend his Omega European Masters title.

Leaderboard

-17 Matt Fitzpatrick, Lucas Bjerregaard

-15 Mike Lorenzo-Vera

-12 Nacho Elvira

-11 Daniel Brooks

-10 Hideto Tanihara, Ashun Wu

Day four report

Matt Fitzpatrick became the first man since Seve Ballesteros to successfully defend his Omega European Masters title in Switzerland.

The Englishman, who was overlooked for a Ryder Cup wild card in midweek, followed in the footsteps of Ballesteros, who won back-to-back titles in 1977 and 1978.

Fitzpatrick came into the final round with a two-shot lead but in the end got the job done on a play-off hole as he beat Lucas Bjerregaard.

Bjerregaard, who started the final round four shots behind Fitzpatrick, was the clubhouse leader after a stunning seven-under-par 63 overhauled the Englishman and Frenchman Mike Lorenzo-Vera.

Fitzpatrick birdied the 18th to level with the Dane on 17 under and force an extra hole and then repeated the trick thanks to an awesome approach following a wayward tee shot in the play-off.

Bjerregaard missed his birdie putt, allowing Fitzpatrick to sink a 10-footer and claim a fifth European Tour title.

"It was really tough, of all of my wins this was the most difficult," Fitzpatrick told Sky Sports.

"I didn't have my A-game today. I just didn't play my best, I managed to grind it out, made some crucial birdies coming in. I am delighted, this is one of my best.

"I feel I am playing way better now than I was this time last year. I can't say how happy I am."

Day three report

Matt Fitzpatrick took control of the Omega European Masters with a third-round 63 which put him in prime position to defend his title.

Matt Fitzpatick: Out in front in the Swiss Alps
Matt Fitzpatick: Out in front in the Swiss Alps

Fitzpatrick looked in trouble early on in Friday's round but recovered to make eight birdies over the closing 14 holes, and he maintained that sort of tempo in a flawless Saturday move which ended in style courtesy of a monster birdie putt at the 18th.

"Everything worked really well today," he told Sky Sports. "When I came back here in 2015, for whatever reason I couldn't hit a draw, so I went with a fade and it's stuck ever since.

"I think a fade round here really suits, it's really handy."

Of the birdie on 18, Fitzpatrick added: "We were just trying to make par, it was an absolute bonus. Hopefully things go to plan tomorrow.

"Someone's going to come from somewhere tomorrow, you can get it going. Stick to my game plan and keep making birdies."

Mike Lorenzo-Vera is in closest pursuit after a 64 earned the Frenchman a place in the final group, two off the pace and two clear of a big share of third which includes America's Doug Ghim and big-hitting Lucas Bjerregaard.

Fitzpatrick birdied the second from close range and changed gear again with a long-range effort at the fifth, another from closer in at the sixth, and a perfectly-weighted chip-in eagle at the seventh.

That gave him a three-shot lead which Lorenzo-Vera briefly cut to one, but Fitzpatrick birdied the 15th and 18th holes to establish a cushion over a player yet to win on the European Tour as he goes in search of a fifth title at the age of 24.

Malaysia's Gavin Green also shot 63 to move into eighth alongside Thomas Aiken, with our 125/1 tip Nino Bertasio into the top 10 and alongside halfway leader Hideto Tanihara, who endured a difficult third round.

Things were even worse for Danny Willett, who dropped from fourth to 60th with a nightmare 79, a round which ranked 66th of the 67 players who made the cut with only Australia's Josh Geary (81) faring worse.

It was behind Willett that Fitzpatrick finished second here three years ago, and having won the title via a play-off last year he now has the chance to become the first man to defend the title since Seve Ballesteros in 1978.

Day two report

Hideto Tanihara took over at the top of the leaderboard at the halfway stage of the Omega European Masters, with defending champion Matt Fitzpatrick among those in pursuit.

Tanihara added a second-round 66 to Thursday's opening 65 to reach nine-under, with Fitzpatrick into a tie for second with Denmark's Lucas Bjerregaard and American Doug Ghim after a sparkling 64.

Fitzpatrick cut a frustrated figure for much of the first round, having learned that he'd missed out on a Ryder Cup place on Wednesday, and bogeys at two of the first four holes on Friday saw him drop to the cut line.

However, the young Englishman battled back with a trio of birdies at the fifth, sixth and seventh and added another at the ninth to close in on the leader.

Further gains followed at 10, 12 and 14 before he signed off in style at the par-four 18th to earn a place in Saturday's final group.

Fitzpatrick told the European Tour: "It was a great day.

"Got off to a bad start. Two-over through four but that is one reason why I love this golf course, you know you can get it back. You've got chances coming in, so I was delighted to take them.

"It is nice to be up at altitude here. I think it will be an exciting weekend."

Fellow Sheffield man Danny Willett is a shot further back and tied for fourth having ended his round with a flourish, mid-range birdie putts at the seventh and eighth holes finding their target before another followed at the ninth, his final hole.

Early front-runner Andy Sullivan shot a two-over 72 to sit alongside Matt Wallace on three-under, six back, while Thomas Pieters made a quadruple-bogey nine in a round of 77 that saw him miss the cut.

At the same par-five 14th hole, Italy's Andrea Pavan required four attempts off the tee, the first three all heading out of bounds, as he ran up an 11 which cost him a place in the field for the weekend in an otherwise solid round.

Day one report

Germany's Maximilian Kieffer claimed the first-round lead at the Omega European Masters as he shot his lowest first round score for five years to sit on six-under at Crans Montana.

Kieffer recorded seven birdies against a single dropped shot on the 12th to sign for a six-under 64 in the Swiss mountain resort.

The 28-year-old is searching for a maiden European Tour title in his 162nd event, and holds a one-shot advantage over England's Andy Sullivan, Dane Soren Kjeldsen, France's Julien Guerrier and Japan's Hideto Tanihara.

“I managed to stay out of the trouble today and played nicely," said Kieffer. "It was a good day, I played very good tee to green and holed a few putts, so I can’t complain.

“I played pretty good my first year, I finished just outside the top ten but since then not really. I love the place though, it’s so nice, and it’s a good place to stay calm on the golf course.

“I have played very well the last couple of weeks and have been hitting the ball nicely since Sweden and the putting feels ok as well, so just trying to stay calm with the mind and hopefully keep the confidence up.

Belgian Thomas Pieters and England's Matt Fitzpatrick and Matt Wallace all played together after the trio missed out on being selected for the Ryder Cup on Wednesday.

Wallace once more highlighted his credentials with a two-under-par 68 at Crans-sur-Sierre while Pieters and defending champion Fitzpatrick went round in 67 and 69 respectively.

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