Matt Fitzpatrick so close to European Tour’s elusive 59

Matthew Fitzpatrick.Matthew Fitzpatrick.
Matthew Fitzpatrick.
Sheffield’s Matt Fitzpatrick came agonisingly close to recording the first 59 on the European Tour yesterday as he charged into contention in the KLM Open.

A day after Paul Lawrie and Wade Ormsby shot 61 to share the overnight lead at Kennemer Golf Club, 21-year-old Fitzpatrick went one better with 10 birdies and no bogeys in a flawless 60.

The former US Amateur champion needed to birdie the ninth, his final hole, to break the 60 barrier, but his putt from 20 feet came up a few inches short.

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Even if it had gone in, Fitzpatrick’s score would not have officially counted for record purposes because of the preferred lies in operation due to heavy rain before the event and “rabbit damage” on the course in Zandvoort.

Nevertheless, it lifted him 97 places up the leaderboard and ensured a halfway total of nine under par, three behind clubhouse leader Soren Kjeldsen (64 64).

Starting on the back nine, Fitzpatrick carded five birdies in a row from the 11th and picked up another shot on the 17th to reach the turn in 28. Further gains on the second, fifth, sixth and seventh left him needing to birdie one of the last two holes.

“I was thinking about the 59 after the front nine to be honest,” Fitzpatrick said. “I was already celebrating going out in 28 so to give myself a shot at that magic number was great.

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“I was just trying to get the read right on that putt on the last. In fact I was thinking so much about the line I forgot about the pace of it, and it was a bit disappointing to leave it short. I knew what I had to do on that hole, and hit two good shots in, but I was a bit unlucky that the approach span back down the slope.

“But it’s been a great day and I can’t have any complaints about a 60.”

Fitzpatrick has had three top-three finishes in his last eight events but added: “I’ve been shaking off a bit of rust. I didn’t play golf at all last week, I just had a break from it. Then this week I was keen to get going and start playing again.

“I feel like I’m ready to win. I’m getting closer and playing well. Hopefully it’s only a matter of time, and I’ll keep working on the same things and keep working hard.”

Bedale amateur Dan Brown, playing in the event by invitation after winning the Dutch Junior Open, added a level-par 70 to his opening 75 and unfortunately missed the cut.