Matthew Fitzpatrick retains European Masters in a playoff
CRANS-MONTANA, Switzerland (AP) — Matthew Fitzpatrick sank a 12-foot birdie putt on the first extra hole to retain his European Masters title Sunday in a playoff against Lucas Bjerregaard.
In a tournament whose winners include Nick Faldo, Ernie Els and Lee Westwood, the 24-year-old Fitzpatrick is the first back-to-back winner since Spanish great Seve Ballesteros 40 years ago.
Fitzpatrick had forced a playoff by making a shorter birdie putt on the same 18th green 20 minutes earlier to card a 3 under 67. That tied him with Denmark’s Bjerregaard, who fired a 7 under 63 to match the lowest round of the week.
Both finished with 17 under totals of 263 at Crans-sur-Sierre club in the sun-soaked Swiss Alps.
Fitzpatrick earned a winner’s check of more than 400,000 euros ($450,000) for his fifth career title. The Englishman last won on the same course one year ago.
“Of all my wins I’d definitely say that was the most difficult,” said Fitzpatrick, who was a rookie on Europe’s losing team at the 2016 Ryder Cup. “I just managed to grind it out.”
Mike Lorenzo-Vera (67) placed third, two shots back, playing in the final group with Fitzpatrick. The 33-year-old Frenchman led until making double bogey at the par-5 14th.
Westwood, the 1999 champion in the Swiss ski resort and a Ryder Cup vice-captain for Europe in Paris this month, finished tied for 12th Sunday. His level-par 70 left him 10 shots back on 7 under.
Fitzpatrick was two shots clear after his 63 Saturday, but let that lead slip dropping shots at Nos. 3 and 6. He got back both shots by the turn, then made three more birdies on the back nine.
Bjerregaard fired five birdies on the front nine, and two more at the back-to-back par-5s, Nos. 14 and 15. At the extra hole, the 27-year-old Dane pushed his second shot off the right edge of the green and failed to chip in.