SHEFFIELD’S Matt Fitzpatrick says he is “a million miles” ahead of schedule after claiming his second European Tour title in the Nordea Masters to boost his chances of a Ryder Cup debut in September.
The 21-year-old carded a closing 71 at Bro Hof Slott Golf Club to finish three shots ahead of Denmark’s Lasse Jensen, who secured his place in the Open Championship with the best finish of his career.
The first prize of €250,000 saw Fitzpatrick move within €500,000 of the total that secured Jamie Donaldson the final automatic Ryder Cup qualifying place for Gleneagles in 2014.
“It’s something I’m trying to play down a little bit,” said Fitzpatrick, who finished seventh in the Masters at Augusta in April.
“I’m really trying to play each week as it comes and there’s still a long way to go before then, there are still three majors and anyone can win them.
“Hopefully I’ll keep playing well and see where we end up come September.”
Asked if he had achieved more than expected following his maiden win at the British Masters last year, Fitzpatrick added: “Completely, a million miles ahead of schedule.
“It’s been a tough few weeks to be fair. After the Masters I had three missed cuts in a row and didn’t play as well as I’d like last week (in the BMW PGA Championship) and all of a sudden you turn up this week and pick up a win.
“I felt like (Sunday) was the round where I’d been under the most pressure, but hitting fairways and greens was key. I think I missed two all day and had a three-putt so I’m absolutely delighted with that and played fantastic. I think this is the best I’ve played.”
Fitzpatrick took a five-shot lead into the final round and extended his advantage with a birdie on the second, only for former Ryder Cup player Nicolas Colsaerts to close the gap with a birdie on the sixth and eagle on the ninth.
Colsaerts also birdied the 10th from 30 feet and when Fitzpatrick three-putted the same hole from long range his lead was down to two, but Colsaerts then bogeyed the par-5 12th before Fitzpatrick birdied to restore a four-shot lead he was never in danger of relinquishing.
Jensen, who had earlier holed out from 152 yards for an eagle on the sixth, chipped in for another on the 13th and inherited second place as Colsaerts spun his tee shot back into the water on the 17th to double bogey.
Fitzpatrick added: “I’ll never forget my first win, but this is a special one for me as well. To win once people might say that was lucky, but to win twice people might have a little bit more confidence in you.
“It’s great to see some of those names on the trophy, like Nick Faldo, Lee Westwood and Luke Donald.
“It’s brilliant. I think I noticed Tony Jacklin’s name on there as well, and there’s some great foreign players as well, so I’m delighted.”
Colsaerts had to settle for third place a shot behind playing partner Jensen, with Swedish duo Henrik Stenson and Bjorn Hellgren sharing fourth on 10 under.
Stenson’s 66 was the lowest round of the day and the world number six said: “Obviously I would’ve loved to be in contention this week, but I probably blew my chance at the start. But this round today will help me build some confidence.
“It’s a big summer ahead and there’s a lot of golf to be played, so hopefully I can build some momentum and peak at the right time.”
Defending champion Alex Noren, who was in the last group with Fitzpatrick, struggled to a closing 78 to finish joint 12th.
Huddersfield’s Chris Hanson tied for eighth with six holes of his round to play, unfortunately shed six shots to par, much of the damage done with double bogeys at the 13th and 17th.
However, he finished tied for 25th place and earned almost €15,000 with scores of 72 69 70 77 and stands 117th in the Race to Dubai standings with earnings of close to €100,000.
Malton & Norton’s Simon Dyson finished in a share of 68th place. He shot 74 69 to make the cut, but a third-round 83 plummeted him down the leaderboard and he closed with a 73, aided by three birdies on the back nine.