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Fitzpatrick feels game trending in time for DP World defence

Last year’s winner has recovered from a slow follow-up and now targets Ryder Cup reconsideration

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Matthew Fitzpatrick
Gulf News

Dubai: Matt Fitzpatrick feels his game is back on track just in time for his DP World Tour Championship title defence this week, where another win would set him up well for next year’s Ryder Cup consideration.

The 23-year-old Englishman finished one clear at 17-under par at Jumeirah Golf Estates last year, but since then he has endured a slow start to the season — only finishing top 10 twice in the first 15 events — before winning again at the Omega European Masters in September.

“It was an OK start, but I just had a really poor summer,” he said. “I’m not really sure why.

“I know I didn’t drive it particularly well in that period but I couldn’t really put my finger on it to be honest. It was just a bad run of form.”

Since his win in Switzerland however, he hasn’t failed to finish outside the top 15 in seven events, boding well for his return to Dubai.

“My game’s trending nicely I feel. The last eight or nine weeks I’ve been playing really solid and it would be nice to peak again this week.

“This is the first time I’m defending on the same course. It’s kind of exciting in a way,” said the winner of four events since turning professional in 2014.

“Obviously the main focus is Tommy Fleetwood, Justin Rose and Sergio Garcia trying to win the Race to Dubai. That will take the main focus, there’s no doubt about that. But it’s nice to probably come in under radar, and I feel like I’m playing quite nicely, so you never know.”

Another victory in Dubai would also state his case for Ryder Cup consideration next year. He played in the last tournament, which Europe lost in 2016, and despite that he’s looking to get back in Thomas Bjorn’s squad.

“Without being rude, I barely played,” he said of 2016. “The game I did play in the foursomes with Henrik [Stenson], we played great tee-to-green and then we just got severely unlucky.

“Then in the singles, I wasn’t playing my A game and Zach Johnson holed the world. I don’t think I played enough to really have made it make an impact on me personally.

“I don’t know about the other guys, but I’d love the chance obviously to make the team and play again next year.”