Abu Dhabi: Matt Fitzpatrick still has that boyish charm at 23, but he has already proved his credentials as a fierce competitor.
A four-time European Tour winner, Fitzpatrick was at his best in the round three of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship on Saturday. With the wind remaining calm and the ball rolling nicely, the Englishman shot a round of 63 to climb up to joint fourth with 15-under and has given himself a clear chance of taking a shot at the title.
Fitzpatrick was so dominant that he had a staggering nine birdies in the first 12 holes. The only blip was a bogey on par 4 16th but he neutralised that setback with a birdie on the last hole.
“It was great. I don’t know how to put it to be honest. We were very lucky. Front nine, every time I got on the green, I just holed every putt, basically, and I felt so comfortable on the greens. Obviously like I said, just putted fantastic. Just a little bit of work to be done on the long game,” said an elated Fitzpatrick, who after claiming his European Tour card at the 2014 Qualifying School won his maiden title at the British Masters in the same year.
He then won twice in 2016 at the Nordea Masters and DP World Tour Championship, Dubai en route to a career-best sixth place finish in the Race to Dubai.
Fitzpatrick, who claimed his fourth European Tour victory at the Omega European Masters last year, set the tempo yesterday with seven birdies in the first nine and he rated it as his ‘second best’ performance till date.
“Pretty up there. I managed 28 a couple years ago at the KLM, which was also nice, but that was placing, so I’m guessing that doesn’t count as good,” said Fitzpatrick, who will be hoping that he can emulate something similar on the final day to get his hands on the trophy.
“The end of the day, the game is all about scoring, and obviously I’ve scored ridiculously well today. That’s what’s nice go into tomorrow. I’m back in the tournament and it’s something at the start of the year that I wanted to do is contest more. First week back is always nice. It’s always a good start.”