Fitzpatrick makes Ryder Cup push at European Masters

In contention: Matt Fitzpatrick (Michael Reaves)
In contention: Matt Fitzpatrick (Michael Reaves)

Matt Fitzpatrick boosted his hopes of playing at the Ryder Cup by grabbing a share of the lead after the opening roud of the European Masters on Thursday.

The former US Open winner carded a bogey-free 63 that left him at seven under par alongside Eddie Pepperell, John Axelsen, Nacho Elvira, Gavin Green and Masahiro Kawamura.

Ludvig Aberg, Scott Jamieson and Yannik Paul were a further a shot off the lead in the final qualifying event for the European Ryder Cup team.

Fitzpatrick needs to finish tied seventh or better to qualify via the World Points List, while German player Paul will make the team via the European Points List with a win.

Englishman Fitzpatrick missed the cut on his debut at the European Masters in 2014 but went on to win back-to-back titles in 2017 and 2018.

"I played brilliant," he said. "Only hit two bad shots, one I got away with and one I got up and down, so that’s as good as I've played for a while."

This year's Ryder Cup takes place in Rome from September 29 to October 1.

Jon Rahm and Rory McIlroy, via the European points list, have already secured places in the 12-man team, as have Viktor Hovland and Tyrrell Hatton, through the world points list.

Players who miss out on an automatic berth for the Ryder Cup will be relying on skipper Luke Donald to name them among his six captain's picks to be revealed on Monday.