Bernd Wiesberger targets Ryder Cup debut with Italian Open win

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Bernd Wiesberger targets Ryder Cup debut with Italian Open win

Euro Tour

Bernd Wiesberger targets Ryder Cup debut with Italian Open win

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Pencil Bernd Wiesberger’s name into the 2020 European Ryder Cup team. Don’t be surprised if he makes Padraig Harrington’s team as 2019 European No. 1.

The Austrian moved to the top of the European Tour’s Race to Dubai with a one-shot win over Matthew Fitzpatrick in the $7 million Italian Open. It’s Wiesberger’s third win of 2019 following the Made in Denmark and the Aberdeen Standard Investments Scottish Open.

Wiesberger began the final round in Rome three shots behind Fitzpatrick, but fired a 6-under 65 to the Englishman’s 69 for a 16-under 268. The 34-year-old took advantage of a Fitzpatrick double bogey on the ninth hole to take the lead for the first time.

Five-time European Tour winner Fitzpatrick had a chance to tie the lead on the 17th hole, but just missed an eagle putt and couldn’t find a birdie at the last to force a playoff.

Wiesberger is making up for lost time. He missed most of last season with a wrist injury. He’s now won three of his last 13 starts. He was also second in the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open, a Rolex Series event like the Italian and Scottish Opens.

“It’s been a great summer for me,” he said. “I’ve had a lot of good golf shown and lovely progress from coming back after last year. I’m just enjoying my time, enjoying getting back into these situations.

“I’ve played really well in the right events, obviously in Ireland and the Scottish and this week which obviously helps getting up that Race to Dubai. I’m just really excited about what’s ahead in those last events.”

Wiesberger, who picked up $1.67 million for his latest victory, was 389th in world last year and should move to 22nd with this win. He might not be done. No one would be surprised if he added another victory before the end of the year.

“I feel really good putting myself in position and staying there,” Wiesberger said. “I’ve won three times this year and it’s been the same every time: I’ve just really enjoyed my time and to be back out there. I sat at home last year for these events, so it’s really full enjoyment when out there in this position.”

The six-time European Tour winner moves to second on the European Ryder Cup points list behind Danny Willett. Many expected Wiesberger to make his Ryder Cup debut last year in Paris. He’s now a stronger favorite to debut at Whistling Straits next year.

Fitzpatrick picked $780,000 for second and moves to fourth on the Race to Dubai.

“It was a bit crap,” said Fitzpatrick, who is looking for his first win of the season to continue a streak of at least one victory per year since his 2015 rookie season. “To lose by one is obviously very disappointing.

“I think I’ve played well when I’ve been up there on a Sunday, just other people really keep grinding and I keep coming up from behind. It is what it is. It’s still a great week, I’m here to win and not here to just make up the numbers.”

Kurt Kitayama finished solo third on 12 under to earn $439,000. The Las Vegas resident, a two-time winner this season, moves to 15th on the Race to Dubai.

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