Matthew Fitzpatrick fighting to keep streak alive in Italian Open

Tullio M. Puglia/Getty Images

Matthew Fitzpatrick fighting to keep streak alive in Italian Open

Euro Tour

Matthew Fitzpatrick fighting to keep streak alive in Italian Open

By

Matthew Fitzpatrick needs another good 36 holes to keep his victory streak alive. The Englishman takes a one-shot lead into the final two rounds of the $7 million Italian Open.

The 2016 Ryder Cup player is one shot ahead of Sweden’s Joachim B. Hansen after a 6-under 65 around Olgiata Golf Club, Rome, to reach 10-under-par. Fitzpatrick had four birdies and one dropped shot on the front nine, but birdied three of his last five holes to move to the top of the leaderboard.

The 25-year-old has won every season since his rookie year of 2015, including twice in 2016, but does not have a 2019 victory. He has two runner-up finishes in the BMW International Open and Scandinavian Invitation.

“Just a really solid day,” Fitzpatrick said. “I figured out something with my irons after the second hole. I just needed to get a little bit more loft on it going back, something I’ve been working on since Wentworth (the BMW PGA Championship), really. Just felt much more comfortable with my irons once I was out there. That certainly showed. Only missed one green after that.

I think I got to 7-under-par and I thought, now I’m sort of in the mix, really, which is obviously where you want to be.

“It’s been a little while, Germany, which was back in June, that I was challenging and then Sweden. When you’re in these kind of positions, it’s always exciting. That’s why you play the game, and I look forward to the weekend.”

Hansen is still looking for his first European Tour victory since turning pro in 2010. He’s currently 89th on the money list after finishing atop last year’s European Challenge Tour order of merit.

I’ve been hitting the ball well,” said Hansen, who returned a 66. “I’ve got my coach here this week, which is really nice, and my father, as well. Finishing fourth last week was just what I needed to relax a bit and set some new targets. I’m looking forward to the next two days.”

Justin Rose, Graeme McDowell, Rory Sabbatini, Andrew Johnston and India’s Shubhankar Sharma sit in equal third on 7 under.

“I had a poor finish, but there was some good stuff as well,” said Rose, who made a double bogey at the eighth hole, his 17th, in a 2-under 69. “Whenever I did make a mistake, I put it behind me. I always tended to make some birdies after that. The putter again was pretty solid. I was happy with that. I did hit a couple more quality golf shots which is nice.”

McDowell is playing just his fourth European Tour event of the season outside the majors and WGC events. He shot a 6-under 66 to get in the mix. He’s looking for his first European Tour win since the 2014 French Open. He’s playing a golf course that might help him to achieve his 11th European Tour victory.

“It’s a fun golf course to play,” he said. “I think it plays into sort of my type of game. You’ve got to grind it around a little bit, and I’m looking forward to being in contention this weekend.”

Home favorite Francesco Molinari was among several big names to miss the cut along with Open champion Shane Lowry, Ian Poulter, Paul Casey and Padraig Harrington.

Latest

More Golfweek
Home