Patience was a virtue for Matthew Fitzpatrick on Sunday at the Estrella Damm Andalucia Open.
The 27-year-old Englishman made par on the first 15 holes of his final round at Real Club Valderamma in Sotogrande, Spain, biding his time before making two late birdies to claim a three-stroke victory over Sweden’s Sebastian Soderberg and Australia’s Min Woo Lee. In doing so, Fitzpatrick notched his seventh career European Tour victory in his eight years as a member.
Of winning at Valderrama, site of the 1997 Ryder Cup, Fitzpatrick said: “It’s on the bucket list with the history that it has,” and added, “it’s extra special, particularly the way I did it.”
In the record book, it will go down as Fitzpatrick shooting a bogey-free 2-under 69 for a 72-hole total of 6-under 278 and a three-stroke victory at the Andalucia Open. But as the announcers noted, Fitzpatrick was “patience personified.” He canned a 15-foot par putt from the back fringe at the fifth green and made a clutch sand save a few holes later to keep his card spotless. Meanwhile, 54-hole leader Laurie Canter struggled throughout in his search for his first victory, closing in 76 and part of a seven-way tie for fourth.
Soderberg proved to be the man Fitzpatrick would have to worry about as he surged to the top of the leaderboard with a scorching start. He was 4 under on the day through four holes, including an eagle at the fourth and led Fitzpatrick by two strokes at 6 under with two holes to go. But the Swede flared his tee shot to the right at the par-5 17th and out of bounds, and compounded his error by taking three putts to make double bogey.
Fitzpatrick, making his first start since going winless at the Ryder Cup for Team Europe, pounced with his first birdie of the day at 16, wedging to 8 feet.
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Soderberg made bogey at the last after another wayward drive to the right and Fitzpatrick got up and down from just over the green at 17 for back-to-back birdies and solidified the final margin.
“I’m delighted,” Fitzpatrick said. “You can hit half-decent shots and be behind a tree and chipping out. It’s a real test.”
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