A family dilemma in the Alps?! That’s the story in pro golf this week
For the golf fan who is used to tournaments being played every single week, all year long, fear not. Just because the PGA Tour is taking a bit of a break ahead of the Ryder Cup doesn’t mean we’re short on storylines. In fact, this week’s DP World Tour event may have the juiciest story of the year.
Halfway through the Omega European Masters — held in Crans Montana, Switzerland — the Brothers Fitzpatrick are creating an incredible dilemma for their parents. For starters there’s Matt, the No. 8 player in the world, who struggled at points this summer but has found a recent spurt of form.
Matt says he and his coach “found something in Memphis” with his driver that allowed him to rocket up the leaderboard in Chicago, where he finished tied for second behind the winner, Viktor Hovland. He followed that with a T13 (net) finish at the Tour Championship in Atlanta and started this week with a 63 before following it with a 65. He’s got the 36-hole lead and afternoon plans to “see some glaciers, or something” with his girlfriend on her first trip to Switzerland. All is good in Matt’s world.
All is also good for his younger brother Alex, who is playing maybe the best golf of his life. Alex nabbed his first professional win at the British Challenge last month, on the Challenge Tour, before a solo second place finish two weeks ago on the DP World Tour. He added another top 20 finish last week at the Czech Masters before arriving in Switzerland as the 166th-ranked player in the world, a career best.
On Thursday, Alex carved out a 65, but then things got really interesting when he did it again on Friday. This time a bogey-free 65 that pushed him up the leaderboard, just a couple slots behind his brother. They played in the same group at the Dunhill Links last fall, but in the heart of a Ryder Cup push, with plenty of money on the line, the Fitzpatrick Bros could find themselves contending from the final group or pairing throughout the weekend in Europe.
“I have no idea,” older brother Matt said, when asked how it will feel. “It’s weird competing for a tournament. Because we never did it in juniors. I was asking Nicolai [Hojgaard] yesterday, did him and Rasmus do it? And he said, ‘Oh, yeah, in juniors.’ But they’re the same age. We’re four years apart. So we’ve never really experienced it before. It’s gonna be a nightmare for my parents.”
Absolutely. We saw a bit of that at the Open in July, when Alex sprung up the leaderboard with a Saturday 65. He bested his older brother by four strokes that week and took home a hearty check of $187,900.
When asked who his parents should follow that week, Matt said “I told them to go focus on him. That’s more important. This is my, what, ninth [Open]? So they’ve seen all nine of those.”
What they haven’t seen is two brothers duking it out for a professional title at the same exact tournament. There is a bevy of other contenders, including Ryder Cup hopefuls Adrian Meronk, Ludvig Aberg and Nicolai Hojgaard, in the running. But at the moment Fitzpatrick is at the top and another Fitzpatrick is right below him. That should make life stressful and also maybe simple for Mom and Dad.
“They’ll probably be happy because it means less walking,” Alex said Friday. “You can walk one round instead of two.
“It would be great. I mean, he’s my brother but he’s also a competitor so I’m still trying to beat him. I shot five under and didn’t gain any ground today, so that was a little frustrating. It would be good. I’ve played a little bit of golf now with him in competitive events and it would be fun to go against him.”