Matt Fitzpatrick contemplates a ‘special week’ at St Andrews after the Scottish Open 66 second round

Matt Fitzpatrick looks for a ‘special week’ in St Andrews after the second round of the Scottish Open 66 – REUTERS

Three weeks after his breakthrough at the US Open and Matt Fitzpatrick is in contention once again. The Scottish Open isn’t important, but the Englishman is desperate to keep up his hot streak with a “special week” on the east coast looming.

The 27-year-old shot a 66 in the second round to move to three under par and break into the top five. Although these were challenging conditions, it could and should have been better for Fitzpatrick, who bogeyed the last two holes.

However, having been on the tougher side of the draw in his first appearance since his heroics at Brookline, he wasn’t complaining with his middle position.

Nine of the world’s top 10 are here at this link from North Berwick and Fitzpatrick is the only one of that sub-par group, with the likes of world number 1 Scottie Scheffler and the US PGA champion ., Justin Thomas, missing the cut.

“I looked at the stats and yesterday there was an average difference of 3.2 shots between the morning and afternoon scores, so yeah, you could say we got the worst of it, wind up and all,” he said.

“But that’s the way it is with links golf and the same thing could happen next week at the Open. [at St Andrews], so you just have to accept it and give the best you can. I’m happy, especially seeing how hectic it’s been since the US Open.

“It’s been 100mph and there have been times where I’ve had to check what day it is. I wanted to get back into the routine to get to these two weeks in the best possible shape. Now I want to win before thinking about the Old Course and what will be a special week like the Open 150”.

England's Matt Fitzpatrick tees off on day 11 during day two of the Genesis Scottish Open - GETTY IMAGES

England’s Matt Fitzpatrick tees off on day 11 during day two of the Genesis Scottish Open – GETTY IMAGES

Fitzpatrick has had a glorious run since January and, in true belligerent Yorkshire fashion, he refuses to accept that it must end soon. “I know he will, because golf isn’t, but I don’t see any reason why he can’t keep playing at this level, or at least close to this level, for a long time,” he said. “It’s been shit this year, whether it’s a top 15 or a botched cut, and if that’s still the case for the rest of 2022, I’d happily take it. I believe in myself and I will at St Andrews. I’ve proven to myself that I can win a major… I’ve done it before and I can do it again.

“No disrespect to the Scottish Open, but the four majors are the most important thing on a golfer’s calendar – everyone wants to peak in those weeks. But I think it’s important to play well the week before. For me, an ideal scenario would be to not have my game but nearby or somewhere. And then it all falls into place next week.”

Fitzpatrick is four behind American leader Cameron Tringale, who followed up his 61 with a 72. It could bode much more for his pursuers. When the 34-year-old Californian birdied two of his first three holes, he was six points ahead. But four straight bogeys from the 16th (he started on the 10th) dragged him back and at seven under he is three ahead of compatriots Gary Woodland and Doug Ghim Hatton with another Englishman in Jordan Smith alongside Fitzpatrick after a 69 and gold. Olympic. medalist Xander Schauffele, who conjured a best of day 65.

The 29-year-old Smith produced the highlight of the tournament thus far with a hole-in-one on the 17th, hitting a six-iron at the 203-yard line. His reward was a car from sponsors Genesis, not only for himself but for his caddy. Sam Matton was busy figuring out how to bring home his GV60, worth around £50,000.

“I have an old BMW and was looking for a new engine, but I’m not sure if I’m going to sell this one yet,” Matton said. “I have my car up here so I don’t know what I’m going to do to get it back to Somerset. Still, it’s a good problem to have. We didn’t know he had entered until the crowd around the green went wild. I was afraid for a few seconds that they were winding us up.”

Tyrrell Hatton is two under after a satisfying 70, though he was left to lament a double bogey six on the brutal 18.

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