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Fitzpatrick Follows In Seve's Footsteps

Matt Fitzpatrick has become the first player since Seve Ballesteros to successfully defend the European Masters (Photo: Getty Images)
England’s Matt Fitzpatrick has become the first player in 40 years to successfully defend the European Masters title, winning the tournament in sudden death for the second consecutive year.

Fitzpatrick overcame Denmark’s Lucas Bjerragaard with a birdie on the first extra hole to match Seve Ballesteros, the last player to defend the title when he won in 1978.

Bjerragaard produced a stunning final round 63 at the Crans sur Sierre layout in Switzerland to tie Fitzpatrick at the top of the leaderboard but the determined Englishman wasn’t to be denied.

Fitzpatrick’s record at the event is impressive. After missing the cut on debut in 2014 he has now finished runner-up, T7 and has two victories.

Despite his clear liking for the course, however, the victory didn’t come easy as he was far from his best Sunday.

At 2-over through the first six holes it looked like he might be in trouble but he turned things around with a  birdie at the short par-4 seventh and went to the turn even par after another at the ninth.

“That was tough, that was really tough,” he said after making his fourth birdie of the week at the 18thto seal the playoff win.

“Of all my wins I'd say that was definitely the most difficult. I didn't have my A game today, despite loving this place I just didn't play my best today.

“I managed to grind it out, made some crucial birdies coming in and I'm delighted. This is one of my best.”

He said he had entered the final round with an aggressive attitude and it paid off.

"Last time was a lot different, I felt like I was playing okay but it was just make par, make par, make par,” he said.

“For whatever reason this year, a change of attitude, I definitely feel like I'm playing way better right now than I was this time last year.

“Me and Alistair agreed, 'just go out and try and win it, don't hope that the other guy doesn't play too well'. That's what we did and I can't say how happy I am that it paid off.

"This is what I wanted to achieve this season - another win. To get it here again is so special and to get my fifth is amazing. I love this place."

For runner-up Bjerragaard it was a disappointing result after some brilliant golf on the final day.

"I played really well today and I got the start we talked about yesterday, five under on the front nine put a little bit of pressure on the guys,” he said.

“It's hard right now, I would have loved to get that win but it's been a great week and you can't argue with two birdies from Matt on 18. Congrats to him.

"I've played well here the last couple of years and it's really good week, a lot of positives. It hurts right now but I'm sure after a glass of red wine tonight it'll feel a lot better.”

Ryan Fox finished the best of the Australasians in T30 after a final round 68, Scott Hend a shot further down the leaderboard and T45.

Josh Geary recovered from his disastrous Saturday 81 with an even par 70 though remained at the tail of the field.

KIERAN PRATT - THE LONG BUNKER SHOT:

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