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Classy Fitzpatrick leads Nordea Masters

Fitzpatrick chasing Ryder Cup inclusion (Photo: Getty Images )
Matthew Fitzpatrick fired a stunning 65 to carry a three-shot lead into the weekend of the Nordea Masters at Bro Hof Slott Golf Club.

The Englishman came into the second round a shot behind a leading group of six players, but his flawless effort catapulted him to 11 under par and gave him a healthy advantage over the chasing pack, which is led by home favourite Alexander Björk, Belgium’s Nicolas Colsaerts, Scotland’s Scott Henry and the English duo of Ross Fisher and Andrew Johnston.

Fitzpatrick enjoyed a stunning maiden European Tour campaign in 2015, winning the British Masters supported by Sky Sports along with securing nine further top ten finishes.He only has one top ten so far this season but that was at the Masters Tournament, where he finished seventh, and the 21 year old is currently on course to make his Ryder Cup debut at Hazeltine National in the autumn.

Victory in Stockholm would all but guarantee his place in Darren Clarke’s team, and Fitzpatrick showed the quality of his ball-striking – and putting – with seven unanswered birdies. 

“Any time you shoot seven birdies it’s always a good day, and when you manage to keep the bogeys off the card at the same time, it’s an even better day, said Fitzpatrick. “I’ve struggled for a bit of form so far this year, but this week has been much more like it. Hopefully I can keep it going. 

“I hit one or two poor shots, but you’re always going to do that. But I more than made up for it on the greens. I putted really well, I holed virtually everything so it was just one of those days really.”

Colsaerts’ 66 was the second lowest round of the day, and moved the former Ryder Cup player ominously into contention to claim a third European Tour title, and a first for four years. It is less than two months since Johnston’s last victory, at Valderamma, and the genial Londoner will fancy his chances of adding a second after closing with three birdies in four holes to join Colsaerts in a share of second place.

A second successive 68 for Fisher moved the 35 year old within sight of a sixth European Tour title, while Björk – who plies his trade predominantly on the Challenge Tour – will have hopes of capturing his first win on the top tier after he also signed for a round of 68. 

Henry is also bidding to win on the European Tour for the first time, and he did his chances no harm whatsoever with a round of 69. 

Further down the leaderboard, Lee Westwood staged a late rally to keep his hopes alive of winning the tournament for a record fourth time. The Englishman looked to be treading water, but after the threat of lightning had led to a brief suspension in play, he returned to the course and fired off three straight birdies from the 16th hole to end the day in a share of 12th place on five under par. 

Richard Green heads the Australians in a share of 19th position and seven shots from the lead.

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