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Matt Fitzpatrick leads at Omega European Masters as brother Alex runs close behind

Matt Fitzpatrick took the outright lead in Switzerland after holding a share overnight, as the race for the Ryder Cup heats up with a host of players in contention to qualify; watch the Omega European Masters on Sky Sports Golf from 11.30am on Saturday

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Highlights from the second round of the Omega European Masters at the Golf-Club Crans-sur-Sierre in Switzerland.

Matt Fitzpatrick celebrated his 29th birthday by claiming the halfway lead in the Omega European Masters, with brother Alex hot on his heels.

Fitzpatrick added a second round of 65 to his opening 63 at Crans-sur Sierre to reach 12-under par, a shot ahead of Sweden's Alexander Bjork.

Younger brother Alex returned a second consecutive 65 to share third place with France's Romain Langasque on 10 under, with Ryder Cup contenders Adrian Meronk and Ludvig Aberg another stroke back.

"The first nine I played fantastic, just carried on where I left off yesterday," said Fitzpatrick, who will replace Tommy Fleetwood in the final automatic qualifying place on the World Points list with a top-six finish.

"I'm disappointed obviously to only shoot level par on the front given the scoring opportunities, but I'm in a good position going into the weekend."

Asked about the prospect of battling his brother for the title over the weekend, the former US Open champion said: "It's weird competing for a tournament because we never did it in juniors.

"I was asking Nicolai (Hojgaard) if he and Rasmus did it and he said they did in juniors, but they're the same age and we're four years apart. We've never really experienced it before – it's going to be a nightmare for my parents."

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Matt Fitzpatrick alongside brother Alex Fitzpatrick at the PGA Zurich Classic earlier this season (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)
Image: Matt Fitzpatrick alongside brother Alex Fitzpatrick at the PGA Zurich Classic earlier this season (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

Alex Fitzpatrick, who is making a first start in an event his brother has won twice before, joked: "It must be in the genes.

"What's not to like? The course is in excellent shape, you're a million miles up in the mountains, beautiful views, just a great part of the world. It's an amazing week so far and just trying to enjoy every moment."

Meronk had the chance to card just the second 59 in DP World Tour history when he covered his first 15 holes in nine under on the par-70 layout, but three-putted the 17th and made a double bogey on the last after his tee shot seemingly got stuck up a tree.

The Pole needs to finish in a tie for second with just one player or better to have a chance of replacing Scotland's Robert MacIntyre on the European Points list, with MacIntyre scraping through to the weekend on three under.

"I'm happy with the way I've fought the last two weeks and I've got a weekend to fight for it again and that's what I'll do," said MacIntyre, who played alongside Meronk over the first two days.

"The last two Thursday-Friday draws have been difficult with the mind and everything that's going on, but over the weekends I kind of free myself up and let rip and the course is there for the taking."

Ryder Cup qualification race set to go down to wire

Fitzpatrick can qualify for the Ryder Cup team automatically via the World Points List, with a tie for seventh place with one other player or better this week.

What's even more interesting is the race for the third automatic qualifier's spot on the European Points List. Robert MacIntyre is currently in possession of that spot but there are still four players, including the Scot, who can mathematically qualify via that route.

One of those is Adrian Meronk, who needs a tie for second with one other to have a chance and, while he shared the lead at one point on day two, a late stumble in his 64 left him at nine under alongside Ludvig Aberg and Renato Paratore – meaning MacIntyre is still on course for a place in Luke Donald's team.

Adrian Meronk of Poland and The Continent of Europe, celebrates his match winning putt on the 18th green, during the final round of the Hero Cup at Abu Dhabi Golf Club, in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, Sunday, Jan. 15, 2023. (AP Photo/Kamran Jebreili)
Image: Adrian Meronk of Poland is hoping to snatch a late qualifying spot for the Ryder Cup

Meronk holed a 43-footer on the first and then put a tee-shot to 10 feet on the third before he left himself seven feet on the fifth, got up and down after not taking on the sixth and chipped to tap-in range on the seventh.

The Pole was inside 15 feet on the 11th and 12th and birdies on the two par-fives then moved him into a share of top spot - and a place on the Ryder Cup team as things stood.

But a three-putt on the 17th and a lost ball on the last saw him drop three shots in two holes and drop back to nine under.

Rasmus Hojgaard and Adrian Otaegui can also snatch the final qualifying spot, but need to win the tournament – which will be tough with Fitzpatrick looking well on course to make it a hat-trick of wins in the Swiss mountains.

Watch the Omega European Masters on Sky Sports Golf from 11.30am on Saturday, and the rest of the tournament across the weekend. Stream the DP World Tour, PGA Tour, Ryder Cup and more for £26 a month for 12 months with NOW.

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