Fitzpatrick beats Hend in playoff to win European Masters
CRANS-MONTANA, Switzerland (AP) Matthew Fitzpatrick made a safe par 4 on the third extra hole to win the European Masters on Sunday, after firing a 6-under 64 to force a playoff.
The 48th-ranked Englishman sank his putt from less than three feet (one meter) while Scott Hend of Australia made a ragged bogey at the 18th hole on the scenic Swiss Alps course.
Fitzpatrick earned a 450,000-euro ($542,000) prize for his first win since the season-ending World Tour Championship in Dubai last November.
It was a fourth career title for the 23-year-old former U.S. Amateur winner.
Hend again pocketed 300,000 euros ($361,000) for losing the title in a playoff for the second straight year.
Both carded 14-under totals of 266 having had early starts Sunday to complete their delayed third rounds. On Saturday, play was suspended because of fog, while fading light brought the leading groups in early.
Englishman Tyrrell Hatton (66) and Paraguay’s Fabrizio Zanotti (68) finished three back on 11 under in a tie for third place.
A playoff was needed because Fitzpatrick and third-round leader Hend (68) both missed mid-range birdie chances on the 18th in regulation.
Hend also missed from five feet for victory on the 18th green in the second playoff hole.
Fitzpatrick, a Ryder Cup debutant last year, said he thought Hend would seize that chance after his own 12-feet (4-meter) birdie putt slid by the hole.
”It’s never nice to see,” Fitzpatrick said of Hend’s miss, ”but we kept our nerve and we played really smart all week.”
Hend acknowledged that ”I had the opportunity and I didn’t take it. Fitzpatrick played great to win. He’s a good champion.”
A long day for Fitzpatrick began with an 8 a.m. tee time for the final three holes of his third round. He bogeyed the 16th and fell four shots behind Hend for his return to the course three hours later.
Fitzpatrick surged after a steady start to the final round, and led by two shots when he birdied the par-3 16th. That made it seven birdies in an 11-hole stretch.
The lead was gone minutes later when Fitzpatrick bogeyed the par-4 17th, after finding a green-side bunker with his approach, and Hend birdied the par-5 15th.
Defending champion Alex Noren of Sweden was tied for sixth place on 9 under after a 66. Lee Westwood, the 1999 winner at the Crans-sur-Sierre club that is blanketed with snow each winter, finished on level par after a closing 69.