Matt Fitzpatrick storms into Scottish Open reckoning as other big names miss cut
US Open champion Matt Fitzpatrick defied a significant draw bias to surge into contention as a host of big names were blown off course in the Genesis Scottish Open.
Much had been made of 14 of the world’s top 15 being in the field ahead of next week’s 150th Open Championship, but half of them could head to St Andrews early after missing the cut at a windswept Renaissance Club.
World number one Scottie Scheffler and reigning Open champion Collin Morikawa shot five over par, US PGA winner Justin Thomas fared worst of all on 10 over and only Fitzpatrick and Xander Schauffele were under par at the halfway stage of the GBP 6.7million event.
Of the 38 sub-par rounds recorded on Thursday, 32 came from the early starters, who averaged three shots better than those playing in the tougher 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 the eighth and ninth meant Fitzpatrick had to settle for a 66, but that lifted him into a tie for fourth alongside Schauffele, whose 65 was the lowest score of another testing day.
American Cameron Tringale could only add a 72 to his opening 61 to set the pace on seven under, three shots ahead of compatriots Gary Woodland and Doug Ghim.
“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.”
England’s Jordan Smith was alongside Fitzpatrick, Schauffele and Kurt Kitayama on three under following a 69 that 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.”
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 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.
Former Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn expressed his embarrassment at being disqualified for signing for an incorrect score following a second round of 77.
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