Fitzpatrick seeking elusive first PGA TOUR victory
November 01, 2019
By Ben Everill, PGATOUR.COM
Matthew Fitzpatrick's interview after Round 2 of WGC-HSBC Champions
Matt Fitzpatrick wants to rebrand his 2019 before it’s too late.
The 25-year-old is certainly happy with his efforts rounding out this decade, one that saw him earn membership on the PGA TOUR, but the theme of his year also has a tone of frustration to it.
Fitzpatrick has notched up three runner-up results on the European Tour in 2019 – including his last start at the Italian Open – and had another on the PGA TOUR at the Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by Mastercard.
But a win on the PGA TOUR has eluded the five-time European Tour winner.
That might change this weekend after rounds of 66-67 at Sheshan International saw Fitzpatrick take the 36-hole lead at the World Golf Championships – HSBC Champions.
Fitzpatrick is no stranger to this position. In fact, he held the same spot at the World Golf Championships – FedEx St. Jude Invitational in July.
On that occasion, he let Rory McIlroy and Brooks Koepka reel him in over the course of the third round, and he’d eventually settle for fourth place on Sunday.
Koepka, who won in Memphis, isn’t in China. But McIlroy is. And he’s just a shot behind the young Englishman.
“It's where you want to be, at the top after two rounds. Obviously better to be there for four, but it's a good start to the week,” Fitzpatrick said.
“Getting a little bit more comfortable with my game than last week, so hopefully carry on over the weekend. I've been fortunate enough to be in this position a few times already this year. A little bit different being a WGC. It means a little bit more to everyone.”
It took a late flourish for Fitzpatrick to surge to the top. He notched four of his five birdies in a seven-hole stretch en route to a blemish-free day. The key was his putting, including a huge par save on the 16th. He is a flagstick in-player when it comes to the greens.
“The back nine I struggled with the driver a little coming in. (But) I putted fantastic, as good as I've putted all year,” Fitzpatrick enthused.
“I think (the flag in) focuses me a little better. Just see the line, stood over it better and from there you feel comfortable. That's the big thing in putting and certainly did it on the back nine.”
If he is to continue to lead the way, Fitzpatrick knows he must find some more accuracy off the tee. With just six of 14 fairways hit on Friday, he knows he pressed his luck.
“It's so important to find the fairways here, because you miss them, you've either got a terrible lie and hacking out, or you've got a good lie and getting a flyer,” he said.
“It's a big key to hit fairways around here and if you can keep doing it, you'll give yourself more chances.”