Fitzpatrick draws level with Willett

European Tour

English rookie Matthew Fitzpatrick joined countryman Danny Willett at the top of the European Masters leaderboard on Saturday.

Fitzpatrick rocketed up the leaderboard thanks to a stellar six-under-par 64 at Crans-sur-Sierre, joining overnight leader Willett, who could only follow up rounds of 65 and 62 with a one-over-par 71.

The duo lie on 12 under par, two shots clear of Frenchman Raphael Jacquelin (68) in third, while American David Lipsky is alone in fourth a further shot back.

South Korean duo YE Yang and Seukhyun Baek, who shared second place overnight, both struggled, carding a pair of 74s to drop down into a tie for fifth place on eight under, four back.

Fitzpatrick’s 64 was the low round of the day, and came courtesy of eight birdies and two bogeys.

The 20-year-old was level par through his first six holes after birdies at the fourth and fifth were cancelled by bogeys at the first and sixth, but he played his last 12 holes in six under par, storming home with four birdies in his last six holes.

“I didn’t get off to the best of starts, with a bogey at the first – at that point 74 was looking much more likely than 64,” said Fitzpatrick.

“I feel like I’ve been playing well for a while now, so it’s been coming but 65-64 yesterday and today is still good going.

“I also have to thank the dentists I visited yesterday, because I was in a lot of pain at the start of the week, but they did a pretty good job on me.

“I’ve just got to keep it going really. It sounds really boring, but I’ll be taking it one hole at a time and trying to stay in the moment, and stay patient. Although that’s easier said than done!”

Willett, meanwhile, struggled to find any rhythm all day. His front nine featured three birdies, but also two bogeys and a double bogey at the fourth after he hit his approach out of bounds on the fourth.

Two further bogeys at the 10th and 11th threatened to derail his title bid completely, but the 27-year-old ensured he would hold on to a share of the lead with a 30-foot eagle at the par-five 15th.

Willett revealed afterwards he was feeling unwell during his round.

“Golf’s not the greatest game when you’re feeling a little bit under the weather, but I won’t be using it as an excuse,” he said.

“It wasn’t the best of days, and the round could’ve got away from me early doors. So it was good to hang tough and finish off the round quite nicely.

“Hopefully that’s my one bad round out the way.

“If we get another day like today, not too many people are going to go low out there, so we’ll just have to wait and see. Hopefully I can commit to a few more shots than I did today.”

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