Fitzpatrick beats Hend in thrilling play-off

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CRANS-SUR-SIERRE, Switzerland: Englishman Matthew Fitzpatrick claimed his first win of the season by edging out Scott Hend on the third play-off hole of a dramatic European Masters in Switzerland on Sunday (Monday in Manila).

Fitzpatrick fired a fantastic final round of 64 to reach 14 under par overall, before Hend’s capitulation on the players’ third sudden-death trip down the 18th handed him a first victory since last year’s Tour Championship.

Australian Hend, who lost to Alex Noren in a play-off at the same event 12 months ago, missed a six-foot putt for the title on the second play-off hole before falling apart minutes later.

“I’m delighted, it’s one that I’ve always wanted to win,” Fitzpatrick, who lost out by one shot to Danny Willett in 2015, told europeantour.com.

“I love playing this golf course, from the first ever year I came as an invite in 2014 it’s one that has really stood out on my schedule and I always want to come back and play.”

After the players had completed their weather-delayed third rounds in the morning at Crans-sur-Sierre, Hend held a three-shot lead over Paraguayan Fabrizio Zanotti.

But world number 48 Fitzpatrick, 23, looked to have carved out a tournament-winning lead as a trio of birdies on the back nine put him two clear with two holes remaining.

Hend, playing in the final group, found a birdie at the par-five 15th though, before Fitzpatrick bogeyed the penultimate hole to leave the pair tied at the top and headed for a play-off on the par-four 18th.

Both two-putted from 30 feet to take pars on the first sudden-death hole, before returning to the final tee box as the play-off was extended.

The 44-year-old Hend struck a magnificent iron shot to six feet from the pin, only to pull his putt for a third European Tour victory past the lip.

He had the wind knocked out of his sails by that poor miss, and dumped his next tee shot into a fairway bunker, before firing the ball against the grandstand behind the green.

Hend completely fell to pieces, with his next chip flying back over the putting surface and stopping only narrowly short of the water hazard.

Playing the last hole for the fifth time in the day proved a step too far for the Aussie, as his bogey allowed Fitzpatrick to tap in for the win.

AFP

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