Woburn leader Fitzpatrick has focus on Augusta prize

Sheffield's Matthew Fitzpatrick.
Sheffield's Matthew Fitzpatrick.
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Matt Fitzpatrick can double his season’s earnings to £1m with a first European Tour title in the British Masters this weekend, but insists securing a return to the US equivalent is more important.

Fitzpatrick added a second round of 69 to his opening 64 at Woburn to share the halfway lead with Soren Kjeldsen on nine under par, one shot ahead of Richard Bland and Kiradech Aphibarnrat.

The 21-year-old from Sheffield is in his first full season on the European Tour after coming through the qualifying school last November, but is currently 36th on the Race to Dubai after four top-three finishes, three of them coming in his last seven events.

Despite earning £503,605 so far this year, Fitzpatrick still lives with his parents and was getting stick from playing partner Chris Wood yesterday for his mode of transport, namely a “four or five-year-old Ford Mondeo” compared to the BMW i8 Wood won for a hole-in-one in the BMW PGA Championship in May.

Asked about the prospect of winning his first title this weekend, Fitzpatrick said: “Hopefully it will come with time. I have said to everyone it’s not something I am absolutely chasing and focusing on.

“If I don’t win between now and the Masters (next April) but get into Augusta on the world rankings, I will be a happy man.”

Fitzpatrick is currently ranked 111th and will need to reach the top 50 by the end of the year or March 28, 2016 to get into the year’s first major.

After winning the US Amateur title in 2013, he partnered defending champion Adam Scott and US PGA champion Jason Dufner in the first two rounds at Augusta in 2014, where he missed the cut by a single shot.

“That would be a dream come true as a professional,” he added. “I don’t think there is anywhere like that place. It’s so special. It would be great to be there as a pro.

“That’s where I want to be. I want to be competing in the long run for majors and stuff like that. It’s about taking my time. I’m only just 21 as well and that’s something everyone keeps telling me.”

As for what he has done with his prize money so far, Fitzpatrick added: “Unfortunately I started having my good results after the good deals had finished. I’ll have to wait for next year now. I’d rather buy a house first, I think.”

Fellow Sheffield golfer Danny Wllett trails Fitzpatrick by eight shots after a round of 72, adding to Thursday’s 69.

Hull’s Richard Finch is a shot further back, following rounds of 69 73. Harrogate’s John Parry missed the cut shot after rounds of 71 72

Kjeldsen, who turned professional the year after Fitzpatrick was born, could add details of his 68 to the notes he keeps after every round, a habit he started almost 30 years ago.

“I write everything down. I’m a little bit of a geek when it comes to that,” said the 40-year-old, who won the Irish Open in May and finished runner-up in Sweden and Denmark.

“I’ve got statistics from every round I’ve played since I was 11 years old.

“My approach has always been I have to be really professional and effective in the way that I play.”

Tournament host Ian Poulter suffered a dreaded shank on the fifth on his way to a double bogey, but recovered to post a round of 70 and finish four under par.