Sunday, November 27, 2022

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Fitzpatrick out to gain ground on top of the money list, McIlroy

Matt Fitzpatrick will be looking to close the gap on Rory McIlroy at the top of the DP World Tour rankings as he defends his Andalucia Masters title in Valderrama.

Fitzpatrick, who finished just 17.8 points behind winner Lee Westwood on the money list in 2020 despite winning the season finale in Dubai, currently sits 998.6 points behind pacesetter McIlroy.

However, the US Open champion can almost cut that deficit in half with a successful defense at the former Ryder Cup venue, where he claimed his seventh DP World Tour title 12 months ago.

“It was always a goal (to win the money list),” Fitzpatrick said. “The way I see it, if you play well all season, you will achieve that goal. It’s not something I really look at until you basically get to Dubai.

“This year me and Rory are up there so this is a chance for me to gain some ground this week.

“Unfortunately, we’ve both played very well in Dubai before, so it would be exciting if it came down to that. If I can have a good week this week and give myself a chance to go to Dubai then we’ll see.

“I’m really looking forward to it. The course is in great shape and brings back some good memories from last year.

“Patience is important. I had 15 straight pars (in last year’s final round), birdied my first 16, and then birdied 17 to give me a cushion for 18.

“But patience is key, it’s about not getting frustrated by bogeys. Sometimes it’s good to make a bogey, it could have been more. If you can limit them, a winning spin isn’t usually low here, so it’s just important to stick to it.

“There are just so many things that make this a tough test. The greens are small, the fairways narrow, trees everywhere, and the wind is swirling. It’s just a real test of everything.”

While the narrow, tree-lined Valderrama might not be every player’s favorite spot, Fitzpatrick relishes the challenge and, following his US Open triumph at Brookline in June, has consciously chosen venues that suit his game.

“A lot has changed, expectations have changed, thoughts about everything have changed,” added the 28-year-old from Sheffield.

“Since the US Open, I’ve felt like I want to play events that I want to play. I go to places I want to be and where I love to be and this is a prime example of that.”

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