11 September 2017
Crans glory for fantastic Fitzpatrick
Matt Fitzpatrick claimed his fourth European Tour title in dramatic fashion at the Omega European Masters, as the young Englishman overcame Australian Scott Hend on the third play-off hole in an enthralling finale in the Swiss Alps.
The 23 year old emerged victorious from the two-man battle courtesy of three pars on the 18th, but he looked dead and buried on the second extra hole as Hend had a four-footer to win before pulling his birdie effort left of the cup to the gasps of the galleries.
Hend suffered a disastrous bogey at the next time of asking, finding the fairway bunker with his drive before knifing out to the back of the green and failing to get up and down, leaving Fitzpatrick with two putts to clinch the historic title. He duly obliged to make it three consecutive winning seasons on the European Tour.
Fitzpatrick had launched himself into contention in regulation play courtesy of a scintillating final round 64, reeling off three successive birdies down the stretch to take the outright lead before a bogey at the 17th pegged him back and gave him a nervous wait after signing for a 14 under total.
Hend finished with three pars to card a two under 68 and earn a second play-off in as many years at this tournament, having lost out to Alex Noren in the 2016 edition.
It was not to be once again for the two-time European Tour winner and he had to settle for back-to-back runner-up finishes at Crans-sur-Sierre Golf Club. Tyrrell Hatton of England and Paraguayan Fabrizio Zanotti finished three shots further back in a share of third place on 11 under.
“It was absolutely nerve-wracking out there. I got off to a great start after the front nine and after the birdie on 10, I just felt like I was out there to compete and trying my best to win. It has been a long day.
“It was a great final round. It was the lowest round of the week for me and it's probably my lowest round in competition here. It's always nice to do it on the Sunday. It's always very special.
“I supposed no one wants to see Hend losing the play-off again but it's just one of those things and I felt bad about it. I played really nicely to win today. I love this golf course. It's fantastic. It really suits my game. My parents are here this week and it's really nice for them to witness my win.
“I played the 18th hole five times today, one to finish my third round this morning and we escaped with a par there. I played a little bit more aggressively the second time in my final round. I was delighted with that as it gave us a chance to go into a play-off. I had a lucky bounce with the approach shot. It was just a case of hitting the fairways and the greens out there and if you get a nice number, you maybe take it on with a nice tight lie.
“Scott hit it to five or six feet and I was saying to my caddy that the bogey on 17 in regulation will cost me the win. Unfortunately for Scott, he gave it away. I was fortunate to get the job done. I thought it was over when he hit it close but he played well all week.
“The Ryder Cup is definitely one of my goals. I would love to be there but there's still a long way to go.”