Fitzpatrick leads as European Ryder Cup hopefuls cement case in Switzerland

Matt Fitzpatrick races into a share of the lead at Omega European Masters as European Ryder Cup hopefuls Ludvig Aberg and Nicolai Hojgaard build their case for picks.

Fitzpatrick leads as European Ryder Cup hopefuls start well in final event
Fitzpatrick leads as European Ryder Cup hopefuls start well in final event

England's Matt Fitzpatrick will be in the European Ryder Cup team no matter what happens this week, but he has given himself every chance to earn his way automatically into Luke Donald's side following a fast start to the Omega European Masters in Switzerland.

Fitzpatrick, who is bidding to join Seve Ballesteros in the record books by winning the European Masters at Crans-sur-Sierre GC for a third time, fired a flawless 7-under 63 to share the first-round lead with five others including compatriot Eddie Pepperell. 

The 2022 US Open champion needs to finish T7 with one other player or better to take the final place in the European Ryder Cup team. 

Tommy Fleetwood currently occupies the final spot in the world points list. 

As it stands, these are the six players automatically in the European Team: 

Q indicates already qualified 

Top 3 from European Points List

Top 3 from World Points List

Given the start made by Fitzpatrick, there is a very strong chance he will replace Fleetwood in that final automatic spot via the World Points List.

Either way, Fleetwood will get a pick in the team whatever happens this week.  

The intriguing final spot in the team lies in the European Points List, with MacIntyre hanging on for dear life to that third spot. 

MacIntyre played steady in the first round of the Omega European Masters with a 2-under 68. 

But that leaves him with plenty of work to do, especially given those waiting in the wings behind. 

Donald will make his six picks on Monday September 4. 

Sweden's Ludvig Aberg and Denmark's Nicolai Hojgaard cannot qualify automatically for the team but they have both well and truly thrown their hats into the ring for captain's picks after a 64 and 65 respecitvely. 

Aberg's opening round of 6-under par was matched by Germany's Yannik Paul, who can overtake MacIntyre for the final automatic place in the team.

Paul needs to win though, or at worse finish third with two others providing how MacIntyre gets on. 

Adrian Meronk can also make the team automatically but he will need to finish T2 or better for any chance. 

Meronk started well with a 3-under 67. 

Rasmus Hojgaard, Victor Perez and Adrian Otaegui can also make the team this week but they all need to win for any chance. 

Hogaard and Otaegui started with a 69, while Perez has more than likely played his way out the running after a 71. 

Many would agree both Shane Lowry and Justin Rose will earn picks in the team.

That would therefore give you a block of eight players that are seemingly banked in the European Ryder Cup team: 

McIlroy, Rahm, Hovland, Hatton, Fitzpatrick, Fleetwood, Lowry, Rose

Many would also agree Sepp Straka deserves his place in the team having won his second PGA Tour title this season.

The fact the Austrian has not even bothered to turn up to compete in this week's event would suggest he has already been given the nod by Donald. 

Sraka also made his way into the final 30 in the FedEx Cup Playoffs, which has to be respected. 

That would therefore take us to nine players in the team, should Straka earn one of Donald's six picks. 

Depending on what happens with the final spot in the World Points List, it would seem MacIntyre will take that as it stands. 

That would be 10 players in the team, leaving us with two more to make up the 12. 

As it stands, it very much looks like those two places will be fought out between Meronk, Aberg, Paul and the Hojgaard brothers. 



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