European Tour

Fitzpatrick aiming for Ryder Cup glory

Matthew Fitzpatrick (Gallo Images)
Matthew Fitzpatrick (Gallo Images)

Dubai - Having acquired a taste for representing Europe in a team tournament, Matthew Fitzpatrick has made qualifying for the Ryder Cup later in the year a big goal of his.

The 21-year-old Englishman was the toast of the European Tour last year when he won the British Masters in his debut season and finished 12th in the Race to Dubai with nine other top-10 finishes.

On the eve of the Dubai Desert Classic this week, Fitzpatrick, who has risen to 44th in the world rankings, said representing the European team in the EurAsia Cup under captain Darren Clarke has made him hungry for more such experiences.

"Yeah, definitely. It's made me definitely want to get there in September. The team atmosphere was great. Everyone was sort of having a good laugh and just enjoying themselves," said Fitzpatrick, who is currently third in the European Points List for the Ryder Cup.

"I think that was the big thing that Darren tried to promote, as well, is that you just want to go out there and enjoy yourself and normally when that happens, you play your best golf.

"I think that's the sort of mentality that I'm trying to take personally into each week.

"I don't write anything down (his goals for the season). I think for me personally, they change all the time with the position that I'm in.

"I'm hovering around the top-50 right now, so it's trying to get higher than that.

"Obviously, everyone is trying to win every tournament they play. So, that's my goal as well."

The Dubai Desert Classic has attracted such star names as world number two and defending champion Rory McIlroy, and world number six and 2007 champion Henrik Stenson.

Also in the mix is American amateur champion Bryson DeChambeau, who stole the limelight on the opening day of Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship by taking the lead with a superb effort of eight-under par 64.

The 22-year-old DeChambeau, who is planning to turn professional after playing the Masters this year, then beat a quality field that included McIlroy in a one-day Pro-Am event in Abu Dhabi, where he shot the best round of the day - a seven-under par 65 - at Yas Links.

DeChambeau, who played the two Desert Swing European Tour events in Abu Dhabi and Doha, felt he was tiring a bit after spending five weeks on the road, but he was looking forward to another exciting week in his journey.

"The past two weeks, it's been fun. I have learned a lot. Messed up a couple times but that's how it goes as an intern, so it's fun," said DeChambeau, who likes to call himself a golf scientist.

"It's great confidence, no doubt, to shoot low numbers like that, and I know I can do it. It's just a matter of staying in the moment and staying in your rhythm and getting your job done.

"Unfortunately I have not been in the best frame of mind, and I am working on that, figuring out how to deal with some different things. It's been a long journey, I can tell you that, and I'm definitely sensing when I'm breaking down.

"If I can get that past me and work on focusing on the next shot in hand, I think I can do pretty well."

The Dubai Desert Classic, which forms the third leg of the European Tour's Desert Swing, was first played in 1989 and is the oldest championship in the Middle East.

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