Orlando, FL …
While Rory McIlroy continued fighting his swing, he handed his Ryder Cup colleague a huge compliment in declaring Matthew Fitzpatrick does not receive near enough recognition the young Sheffield golfer deserves.
Fitzpatrick, 22 kept his name atop of the leader board birding two of his closing three holes in a three under par 69 and head to move into second place at eight under par in the Arnold Palmer Invitational in Orlando.
American Charley Hoffman (66) led the £7.04m event at 10-under par as the first round leader, Emiliano Grillo of Argentina took to the course in the afternoon half of the draw.
The World No. 30 ranked Fitzpatrick is competing on an invitation and as reported yesterday here at www.golfbytourmiss.com the young Englishman is looking to secure full PGA Tour membership either this week or during the course of his next two events – next week’s WGC Dell Match-Play Championship in Texas and a fortnight later at the April 6th commencing Masters.
Fitzpatrick’s second round including five bogey and just two bogeys and with the pick of the birdies was holing a 25-footer from just off the back of the green at the par four, 10th.
“The key today was that I scrambled really well,” he said. “I just sort of was a little bit looser going into the greens off the tee today and, yeah, that was a big thing, saving par.”
And given Fitzpatrick’s boyish looks and somewhat small stature, it prompted one Orlando TV reporter to ask if his growing US fan base are surprised at his physical appearance.
“I guess so, yeah, I’m sure probably people think I’m the amateur out there or the 15-year-old that’s got in or something,” he said smiling.
“But I don’t really, I don’t mind that, I think it’s quite funny. I would rather that than people think, oh, he’s going to win every week.
“I can’t really imagine the sort of pressure that is Rory and Jason Day and those guys have, it’s probably tough to keep up with.”
Fitzpatrick’s comments led to Rory McIlroy being asked if he feels the reigning DP World Championship titleholder is being cut short when it comes to recognition.
“I do think so”, said McIlroy after his round of 71 for a one over par tally.
“But then I can understand what some may say as he looks the same as when he won the US Amateur (2013) as he still looks very, very young. I think that it’s not Matt’s demeanour to be out there.
“He’s a quiet kid but he gets his business done and he does it very efficiently and very well. Yeah, I mean look, he’s a great talent. He’s a Ryder Cup player already and he won one of our biggest tournaments, has won a couple of our biggest tournaments over in Europe so far, so it’s not a surprise to me to see him up there at the top of this leader board.