Sheffield’s Matt Fitzpatrick storms into contention at Scottish Open

US Open champion Matt Fitzpatrick defied a significant draw bias to surge into contention as a host of big names were blown off course in the Genesis Scottish Open.

Much had been made of 14 of the world’s top 15 being in the field ahead of next week’s 150th Open Championship, but half of them could head to St Andrews early after missing the cut at a windswept Renaissance Club.

World No 1 Scottie Scheffler and reigning Open champion Collin Morikawa shot five over par, US PGA winner Justin Thomas fared worst of all on 10 over and only Sheffield’s Fitzpatrick and Xander Schauffele were under par at the halfway stage of the £6.7m event.

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Of the 38 sub-par rounds recorded on Thursday, 32 came from the early starters, who averaged three shots better than those playing in the tougher afternoon conditions.

Sheffield's Matt Fitzpatrick. (Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images)Sheffield's Matt Fitzpatrick. (Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images)
Sheffield's Matt Fitzpatrick. (Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images)

Fitzpatrick’s opening 71 was therefore a highly creditable effort and his second round was on course to be truly special as the 27-year-old from Sheffield played his first 13 holes in six under.

Bogeys on the eighth and ninth meant Fitzpatrick had to settle for a 66, but that lifted him into a tie for fourth alongside Schauffele, whose 65 was the lowest score of another testing day. American Cameron Tringale could only add a 72 to his opening 61 to set the pace on seven under, three shots ahead of compatriots Gary Woodland and Doug Ghim.

“I wasn’t in the best of positions going into today given yesterday’s weather, but it was fantastic to get off to such a great start. To score as well as I did on the back nine I was absolutely delighted,” Fitzpatrick said.

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“It was 3.2 shots difference between morning and afternoon (yesterday), so it’s safe to say we got the worst half of the draw.

“But I’ve had so much support with people saying congrats and keep it going as you’re walking onto tees and greens. It’s been really nice to be out there.”

England’s Jordan Smith was alongside Fitzpatrick, Schauffele and Kurt Kitayama on three under following a 69 that included a hole in one on the 17th which earned both him and his caddie Sam Matton one of the sponsor’s cars.

At the other end of the leaderboard, Ian Poulter added a second round of 72 to his opening 78 to comfortably miss the halfway cut on 10 over par. Thomas Bjorn expressed his embarrassment at being disqualified for signing for an incorrect score following a second round of 77.

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