Matthew Fitzpatrick leads Omega European Masters with Ryder Cup spot on the line

Matthew Fitzpatrick holds the solo lead through 36 holes at the Omega European Masters, an important tournament considering the European Ryder Cup team is finalized on Monday.

Fitzpatrick is not on the team yet, but he is ranked 6th in the world points for European qualifying.

Ranked ahead of him is fellow Englishman Tommy Fleetwood and four players who have already made the team: Jon Rahm, Rory McIlroy, Viktor Hovland, and Tyrell Hatton.

But with a win in Switzerland, Fitzpatrick would make the team automatically. Therefore, he would not need to rely on a captain’s pick to make the European side.

Matthew Fitzpatrick lines up a putt on the 7th green during the second round of the 2023 Omega European Masters.
Photo by Stuart Franklin/Getty Images

Yet, Fitzpatrick is a shoo-in to play for Team Europe, especially after carding a 5-under 65 Friday.

He is currently 12-under for the championship.

The 29-year-old Englishman, who celebrated his birthday Friday, holds a one-shot lead over Alexander Björk of Sweden. He is also two shots clear of his younger brother, Alex, who shot a 65 Friday as well.

“We’re four years apart; we have never really experienced this before,” Fitzpatrick said Friday when asked about contending in a tournament alongside his brother. “It’s going to be a nightmare for my parents.”

Alex, who qualified for The Open Championship, will not make the Ryder Cup this time around. But he has played an impressive stretch of golf as of late.

So too has Adrian Meronk of Poland, who leads the DP World Tour in strokes gained off the tee this season. The Pole shot a 6-under 64 Friday but ended his round with a three-putt bogey on 17 and a double bogey on 18.

Adrian Meronk, DP World Tour, Omega European Masters

Adrian Meronk’s tee-shot on the 18th hole ended up in a tree to the left of the fairway.
Photo by Stuart Franklin/Getty Images

Meronk lost his tee shot in a tree on the last hole, which led to the double.

Had he finished birdie-birdie, he would have shot an illustrious 11-under 59, which would have certainly helped his Ryder Cup hopes. The big-hitting Pole ranks fifth in European points for qualifying and can only make the team via a captain’s pick.

Other players under consideration from European captain Luke Donald include Scotsman Robert MacIntyre, German Yannik Paul, and Frenchman Victor Perez.

MacIntrye and Paul both made the cut, but the Scotsman needed to get up and down from behind the 18th green to make the weekend on the number. He shot a 2-under 68 Thursday and 1-under 69 Friday to finish 3-under through 36 holes.

Robert MacIntyre, DP World Tour, Omega European Masters

Robert MacIntyre tees off on the famous 7th hole at Crans-sur-Sierre Golf Club during the 2023 Omega European Masters.
Photo by Stuart Franklin/Getty Images

Paul, meanwhile, struggled on Friday after opening with a 6-under 64. The Frankfurt, Germany native carded a 1-over 71 and is now six shots off the pace after being one stroke back after the opening round.

As for Perez, he missed the cut by two strokes. Whether he makes the team remains to be seen, but if he does, he would be the first Frenchman to play for Team Europe since Victor Dubuisson did so in 2014.

But Perez is likely on the outside looking in, which makes his missed cut even more unfortunate since European qualifying ends Sunday evening.

Nevertheless, Donald will field a formidable team, and if Fitzpatrick continues to play like he has in Switzerland, watch out for him in Rome.

Jack Milko is a golf staff writer for SB Nation’s Playing Through. You can follow him on Twitter @jack_milko for more golf coverage. Be sure to check out @_PlayingThrough too.

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