Matt Fitzpatrick in Scottish Open contention after overcoming ‘worst’ conditions

Matt Fitzpatrick

US Open champion Matt Fitzpatrick overcame being caught on the wrong side of the draw to play his way back into contention for the Genesis Scottish Open.

Of the 38 rounds under par on Thursday, 32 came from the early starters who averaged 70.39, more than three shots better than those playing in the windier afternoon conditions.

Fitzpatrick’s opening 71 was therefore a highly creditable effort and his second round was on course to be truly special as the 27-year-old from Sheffield played his first 13 holes in six under.

Bogeys on his final two holes meant Fitzpatrick had to settle for a 66, but that was good enough for a share of the early clubhouse lead on three under par with compatriot Jordan Smith and Olympic champion Xander Schauffele, the latter having recorded a superb 65.

“I wasn’t in the best of positions going into today given yesterday’s weather, but it was fantastic to get off to such a great start. To score as well as I did on the back nine I was absolutely delighted,” Fitzpatrick said.

“It was 3.2 shots difference between morning and afternoon (yesterday) so it’s safe to say we got the worst half of the draw.

“But I’ve had so much support with people saying congrats and keep it going as you’re walking onto tees and greens. It’s been really nice to be out there.”

Smith also had two other reasons to celebrate as his 69 included a hole in one on the 17th which earned both him and his caddie Sam Matton one of the sponsor’s cars.

“I’m over the moon,” Smith said. “We had been chatting about it earlier in the week and saying today’s pin position might be good for a hole in one but we didn’t know until the crowd went nuts.

“Sam and I grew up playing golf together down in Wiltshire and he was one of the ushers in my wedding. It’s great obviously having him on the bag.”

Matton added: “I don’t think I’ve ever seen a caddie prize like that and it’s a really nice touch. I’ve been looking for a new car but I’m not sure how we’re going to get it back home as I have mine here. It’s a nice problem to have.”

Ian Poulter
Ian Poulter successfully appealed against his suspension from the Scottish Open for competing in the first LIV Golf event last month (Steven Paston/PA)

At the other end of the leaderboard, Ian Poulter added a second round of 72 to his opening 78 to comfortably miss the halfway cut on 10 over par.

Poulter successfully appealed against his ban from the GBP 6.7million event for playing in the first LIV Golf tournament – without permission – last month, but must have been wondering why he had gone to the trouble.