If things break right, Matthew Fitzpatrick can join some select European Tour company this week (and on his birthday, too)
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Matthew Fitzpatrick is a loyal Englishman, but he certainly seems to have an affinity for the mountains of Switzerland. Since turning professional in 2014, Fitzpatrick has played in the Omega European Masters on the Crans-sur-Sierre course five times. After a missed cut in his initial appearance, he subsequently has finished seventh, second, first and first. He even had a hand a year ago in permanently memorializing his accomplishments in the tournament.
Should Fitzpatrick win once more there this week, he will become the first player since the tournament’s inception in 1972 (it was first known as the Swiss Open) to win it three straight years. (Seve Ballesteros won the title there three times, but not consecutively). Fitzpatrick also would accomplish the feat on what’s already a meaningful day in his life; Sunday he celebrates his 25th birthday.
“Going for the hat trick is obviously a nice position to be in,” Fitzpatrick said earlier this week after a second-place finish last week at the Scandinavian Invitation. “I feel comfortable around here. I love the week as a whole. It’s always good fun.”
The three-peat wouldn’t just be rare for the event but rare on the European Tour overall. Since 1990, only four golfers have managed to win a Euro Tour title in back-to-back-to-back years, all with fairly stellar overall resumes. The others were Ian Woosnam (Monte Carlo Open, 1990-’92), Nick Faldo (Irish Open, 1991-’93), Colin Montgomerie (BMW Championship, 1998-2000) and Sergio Garcia (Andalucia Masters, 2016-’18).
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Indeed, three-peats are rare anywhere in pro golf. On the PGA Tour in the last four decades, there have been just four golfers to accomplish it: Tom Watson, Stuart Appleby, Steve Stricker and Tiger Woods. (Mind you, he just happened to do it four times).
Fitzpatrick’s triple would be unique in another way. In his two previous wins, he used a different caddie each time. This week he is working with another new looper, having recently teamed Billy Foster.
“He’s very experienced, but there’s a lot more pressure on him than there is on me because I’ve had two different guys on the bag to win here. … He’s probably feeling the pressure,” he said.
To win once more, though, Fitzpatrick is going to have to fend off a slightly tougher field than in year’s past. He’ll be paired early with Sergio Garcia and Tommy Fleetwood. Former major winners Danny Willett and Padraig Harrington are competing as is recently crowned FedEx Cup champion Rory McIlroy, who flew over from East Lake to compete in just his second regular season European Tour event of 2019.
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