Matthew Fitzpatrick focuses on Ryder Cup during BMW PGA Championship

VIRGINIA WATER, ENGLAND - MAY 24: Matt Fitzpatrick of England lines up on the 16th hole during the first round of the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth on May 24, 2018 in Virginia Water, England. (Photo by Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images) Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images

Matthew Fitzpatrick focuses on Ryder Cup during BMW PGA Championship

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Matthew Fitzpatrick focuses on Ryder Cup during BMW PGA Championship

VIRGINIA WATER, England – Matthew Fitzpatrick feels he has to make this year’s European Ryder Cup team automatically rather than rely on a pick from captain Thomas Bjorn. An opening 5-under-par 67 in the $7 million BMW PGA Championship helps that bid.

This week’s tournament, the first Rolex Series event of the European season, marks the real start of the race to fill European spots for the match at Le Golf National, Paris, Sept. 28-30. Every euro earned between now and the end of the Made in Denmark tournament, the last qualifying event, counts for 1.5 Ryder Cup points, rather than the previous one for one ratio.

The Englishman made his Ryder Cup debut two years ago, but only played twice. He and Henrik Stenson lost a foursome’s match to Brandt Snedeker and Brooks Koepka before the 2013 U.S. Amateur champion went down to Zach Johnson in singles.

Four players from the European points list and four from the World points list make the team automatically, with four wild card picks. Fitzpatrick, 23, is fifth on the former and ninth on the latter.

“In my own mind, I expect to make the team, but I’d probably say if I’m 12, 11, 10, to make the team,” he said.

“I would assume I have to make it by right. I’ve become good friends with Thomas over the last few years because he’s helped me with my short game. I did a golf day with the R&A along with Thomas before turning pro and he spent 20 minutes just talking to me about turning pro. I’ve always been very lucky with him because he’s been very pleasant with me. So, if I am (looking for a pick) then please, please, please. Hopefully that won’t be the case.”

The one-time Northwestern player, Fitzpatrick spent the last qualification process looking at where he stood. Not this time.

“I’m not really studying it to see what I need to do, whereas two years ago I definitely was. One and a half points from now makes it a little bit exciting. It will be interesting come the end of all the points to see what the team is.”

Especially if his name’s in the starting lineup.

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