Fitzpatrick is following in Ballesteros’ footsteps


English golfer Matt Fitzpatrick can pass two important milestones if he wins the European Masters golf tournament at Crans-sur-Sierre in the Swiss Alps.

The 29-year-old Fitzpatrick, who beat Scot Connor Syme, Ludvig Aberg and Alexander Bjork (both from Sweden) by two shots on Sunday, can win the tournament for a third time. He will then join the Spanish legend Seve Ballesteros who has also achieved this.

If Fitzpatrick prevails, he will also be one of six automatic selections for inclusion in the European Ryder Cup team.

The talented Fitzpatrick has already won eight tournaments in the European Series and DP World Tour, as well as two tournaments in the US PGA Series (including the US Open in 2022) and another in the Asian Series.

He shot 67 in the third round on Saturday and finished on 195 (-15). His round was a combination of brilliance and mediocrity, as he scored seven birdies, conceded two shots at par on two holes and once filled his scorecard two shots over par after missing two short putts.

Nicolai Hojgaard (Denmark) as well as Matt Fitzpatrick’s younger brother, Alex, are joint fifth at 198 (‑12), with South Africa’s Oliver Bekker joint seventh at 199 (-12).

It was a good day for a host of other South Africans, with JC Ritchie (200, -11), Erik van Rooyen and Wilco Nienaber (both 201, -9), Zander Lombard (203, -7) and Thriston Lawrence (205) , -5) who are still in the race on this picture-perfect course that reminds a lot of the course at the Cathedral Peak hotel in the Drakensberg.

* In the US LPGA Series’ Portland Classic tournament played in Oregon at Colombia Edgewater Country Club, America’s Megan Khang trails at 198 (-18) by one stroke ahead of Thailand’s Chanettee Wannasaen and South’s Hyo-Joon Jang -Korea, who both finished at 199 (-17) in the clubhouse.

Carlota Ciganda of Spain is fourth on 201 (-15), with Ruoning Yin and Xiyu Lin (both of China), Gina Kim (America) and Atthaya Thitikul (Thailand) all tied for fifth on 202 (-14) after the third round.

South Africa’s Ashleigh Buhai, who scored rounds of 70, 69 and 70, is 40th at 209.