Fitzpatrick takes lead, could win back-to-back European Masters titles

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Fitzpatrick takes lead, could win back-to-back European Masters titles

Euro Tour

Fitzpatrick takes lead, could win back-to-back European Masters titles

Matthew Fitzpatrick and Seve Ballesteros aren’t normally used in the same sentence, but the Englishman is on the verge of following in the maestro’s footsteps. Fitzpatrick can become the first player since Ballesteros to successfully defend the European Masters.

The 24-year-old takes a two-shot lead into the final round of the $2.9 million Omega European Masters at Crans-sur-Sierre Golf Club in Crans Montana, Switzerland after a third round 7-under 63. He sits on 14 under, with France’s Mike Lorenza Vera on 12 under.

Doug Ghim is one of four players tied in third place on 10 under. Ghim, who helped the United States win last year’s Walker Cup, returned a 3-under 67 in just his second European Tour event after last week’s Made in Denmark.

Ballesteros won in Crans Montana in 1977 and 1978, and later re-designed the course Fitzpatrick and the rest of the field are tackling this week.

Fitzpatrick enjoyed a bogey-free day high in the Swiss Alps. The four-time European winner birdied three of his first six holes before chipping in for eagle at the driveable par-4 seventh hole. Out in 30 shots, he came home in 33.

“It was really, really good,” Fitzpatrick said. “I would say that everything went well today. I drove it really solid and made some great up-and-downs which has been a bit of a struggle this season to keep the round going. There were some real key ones today and that was the difference. It kept the momentum and I managed to kick on.

“He (Ballesteros) is a good man to emulate, so hopefully things go to plan tomorrow.

“You still want to put the pressure on and make birdies. You are going to have to because someone is going to come up from somewhere tomorrow, there is no doubt because you can get it going. Hopefully I’ll stick to my game plan and make plenty of birdies.”

Ghim, who turned professional in June, can gain full European Tour membership with a win. Second place would take him close to the top 110 on the order of merit, leaving him needing one more good finish to earn full 2019 European Tour playing rights.

Lorenza Vera returned a 64. He’s looking for his first European Tour win.

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