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Fitzpatrick brothers set up family showdown over the weekend at European Masters

Matt Fitzpatrick Matt Fitzpatrick - The Canadian Press

CRANS-MONTANA, Switzerland (AP) — The Fitzpatrick brothers have set up a family showdown over the weekend at the European Masters.

Matt Fitzpatrick, seeking a high finish to secure an automatic place in Europe's Ryder Cup team, shot 5-under 65 to move into a one-stroke lead on 12-under par after the second round on Friday at the picturesque Crans-sur-Sierre Golf Club in the Swiss mountains. The 2022 U.S. Open champion was a winner here in 2017 and '18.

His younger brother will be trying to stop him claiming a third victory.

Alex Fitzpatrick, four years younger at age 24, also shot 65 and was two shots back in a tie for third place, establishing a great storyline at the European tour event that doubles as the final tournament for Ryder Cup qualification.

“It’s weird competing for a tournament,” Matt Fitzpatrick said. "We never did it as juniors.

“It's going to be a nightmare for my parents.”

The siblings were in line to be together in the final pairing in Saturday, only for Alexander Bjork of Sweden to shoot 64 late in the second round and move into second place alone, one behind Matt Fitzpatrick.

That put Alex in the next-to-last pairing with Romain Langasque, who also shot 65 for 10 under overall.

Alex Fitzpatrick's golf career has been in the shadow of his brother's and he has been there for Matt's biggest moments. Like last year when he was greenside at No. 18 at Brookline where Matt won the U.S. Open for his first major title, and 10 years ago when he was on Matt’s bag for his victory at the U.S. Amateur on the same course in Massachusetts.

Now he is a top player in his own right, up to No. 166 in the world and recently having finish tied for 17th at the British Open in his first appearance at a major.

“He’s my brother but also a competitor, I’m still trying to beat him,” Alex said. "I shot 5 under and didn’t gain any ground today, so that was a little frustrating.

“I’ve played a little bit of golf with him in competitive events now, so it would be fun to go against him.”

Matt Fitzpatrick, No. 8 in the world ranking, requires a finish better than seventh alone to jump above Tommy Fleetwood, who is not playing this week, and take the third and final qualifying place on the World Points List for the Ryder Cup.

The race for the third and final automatic place on the European Points List is also heating up, with Robert MacIntyre (69) — who occupies that spot — getting up-and-down at the last to make the cut on the number.

“I was just standing (over his final putt) there thinking of all sorts,” said the Scottish player, who looks vulnerable to be overtaken on what would be a cruel finale to the Ryder Cup qualifying race.

Adrian Meronk of Poland needs at least a runner-up finish to overtake MacIntyre and was in second place as he teed off on No. 18. He hooked his drive into a tree and had to reload on the tee, eventually making double bogey.

He shot 64 and was in a tie for fifth, three off the lead alongside Ludvig Aberg (67), the Swedish rookie hoping for another good finish to convince Europe captain Luke Donald to give him a wild-card pick.


AP golf: