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The 151st Open

Flying Fitzpatrick


65 sees Alex leapfrog Matt

Alex Fitzpatrick during day three at The 151st Open

There are times it cannot be easy watching your big brother live out your own dreams but Alex Fitzpatrick has used his Open debut to show he too is more than comfortable on the big stage.

The 24-year-old is four-and-a-half years younger than Matt, who made his own bow at golf’s original Championship a decade ago and has since become a major winner, but heads into the final round as the highest-placed Fitzpatrick on the leaderboard after a sterling Saturday 65 took him to four-under-par for the week.

He reached the turn in 32 and four more birdies followed down the back nine, with a bogey at 11 his only slip on an otherwise excellent day.

Fitzpatrick’s short game is a particular strength and his flat stick was on fire down the home straight, with putts of 25, 26 and 14 feet sunk at 15, 17 and 18 respectively as he finished with a flourish.

Having come through Final Qualifying at West Lancashire to book his place at Royal Liverpool, the man from Sheffield is pinching himself at seeing his name among the greats of the game but hopes this is just the beginning.

“They are the best players in the world and I'm inspired to be like a lot of the guys who are on that leaderboard,” he said.

“I feel like when I play my own game and I play well, I feel like I can compete for the most part.

“I've played two Walker Cups now and I feel like for the most part, you understand you play in front of a lot of people and you're put under pressure a lot, but this was a bit more of a different feel.

“You've got a lot of supporters and no one is rooting against you, especially home crowd.

“I said this at the start of the week, I'm here to enjoy myself and it didn't matter how I did. I enjoyed myself a lot out there.”

Both Fitzpatrick brothers are well placed going into Sunday, with Matt two shots further back after carding a 67 which included four birdies in his last five holes.

The younger of the pair insisted there would be no conversation about who may finish on top while their parents will have a dilemma as to who to follow through the afternoon, having taken Matt’s advice to stick with Alex on Saturday.

Alex Fitzpatrick in action during his third round at The 151st Open

“It's a difficult one because they've been to so many events with him,” he said.

“He plays every major, every PGA Tour event each week. It's difficult for my mum and dad to come see me that often with Challenge Tour and all that sort of stuff.

“I think they thought they'd choose me today, and it might be him tomorrow, and that's fine.

“I've gained a lot of knowledge through my brother for the past couple years, and I feel like that seeps into my game slowly - maybe a little too slowly at times.

“There will be no rivalry or anything like that. We're brothers at the end of the day as much as we're golfers.

“I root for him, he roots for me. We're both supporting each other, and we both want what's best for each other.”

Fitzpatrick admitted he has a greater competitive rivalry with his girlfriend, Rachel Kuehn, who is preparing for a major of her own at next week’s Evian Championship, than he does with his brother.

He will certainly have the bragging rights should he come away with silverware this weekend but he is not letting himself get carried away.

“It [winning] hasn't even crossed my mind to be honest,” he said.

“Even after the round today, I've thought about when I saw my name on the thing about being in contention.

“Winning the Claret Jug would obviously be a dream, but there are a million top players who are still ahead of me and still have got a lot of holes to play.

“Realistically, it doesn't matter how tomorrow goes. Obviously I would like to play well, but at the end of the day it's been an amazing week, and memories that I'll always remember.”

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