Matthew Fitzpatrick shoots 66 to take early lead at Genesis Invitational

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Adam Schupak
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Matthew Fitzpatrick is making his 77th start on the PGA Tour this week and is still searching for his first victory. But the Englishman is off to a dreamy start in Tinseltown.

When told that his 5-under 66, the lowest round among the early wave of finishers, tied his lowest first-round score of his Tour career, Fitzpatrick responded, “Oh, really?”

Sure, there were a few loose swings in there and one bogey on the card, but not too shabby to tour Riviera Country Club in Pacific Palisades, California, in 66 strokes. Fitzpatrick’s round was highlighted by a 24-foot eagle putt at No. 1. For the round, Fitzpatrick crouched into his spider-like pose to read the lines and holed 125 feet of putts, gaining more than three strokes on the field with his putter.

Genesis Invitational: Leaderboard | Photos

“On the whole it’s a great start, couldn’t ask for any better,” Fitzpatrick said.

Starting his morning on the back nine, Fitzpatrick broke into red figures early with a birdie at the par-5 11th, which was set up by a wedge to 3 feet. He gave the stroke back with a bogey at 13, but then he found his touch with the short stick on the par 3s, rolling in a 43-foot birdie at the 14th hole and a 10-footer at 16.

On the second nine, Fitzpatrick got off to a magical start with the eagle at the first and tacked on another birdie by stiffing his approach from 156 yards to inside 3 feet at No. 7. Overall, he hit 7 of 14 fairways and 8 of 18 greens, but managed to scramble 9 out of the 10 times he missed a green.

The 26-year-old Englishman has won six times on the European Tour and entered the week ranked No. 20 in the world. With only one first-round lead to his credit, Fitzpatrick’s fast start on Thursday could be just the start he needs to ensure he’s part of the trophy hunt on Sunday.