Matt Fitzpatrick on track to recover from Dubai disappointment

Matthew Fitzpatrick of England tees off during the first round of the Hong Kong Open. Picture: Anthony Wallace/AFP/Getty Images
Matthew Fitzpatrick of England tees off during the first round of the Hong Kong Open. Picture: Anthony Wallace/AFP/Getty Images
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England’s Matt Fitzpatrick believes he is right on track to erase his Dubai disappointment after an opening 66 in the UBS Hong Kong Open.

Fitzpatrick led by a shot at halfway in the defence of his DP World Tour Championship title last week, but struggled to a third round of 72 and eventually finished 12th.

That was still the 23-year-old from Sheffield’s seventh straight top-15 finish since he won the Omega European Masters and a round containing six birdies and two bogeys at Fanling left him a shot behind leader SSP Chawrasia.

“It’s a good start to the week,” Fitzpatrick said. “It’s not an easy course and listening to Justin Rose talking after the pro-am, he said four rounds of four under would be a good score. I’d definitely take that right now and see where you end up.

“We had a bit of a crowd with us which was great. People are going to be following Tommy [Fleetwood] seeing as he won the Race to Dubai last week.”

Four days after being crowned European No 1 for the first time, Fleetwood shrugged off the effects of playing his fifth event in a row with a 68 matched by Race to Dubai rival Rose. Rose, who won in Hong Kong in 2015, looked on course to finish ahead of Fleetwood until a bogey on the 18th, where he failed to get up and down from a greenside bunker. Masters champion Sergio Garcia also bogeyed the tricky 18th in a round of 69.

Scotland’s Bradley Neil is six shots off the lead after a one-over round of 71. Compatriot David Drysdale is two shots further back.

l Paul Casey will represent Europe for the first time in over nine years in January after being selected as a wild card for the EurAsia Cup.

The Englishman was on the winning Ryder Cup teams in 2004 and 2006 but last played for the continent in the 2008 loss to the USA at Valhalla.

Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn will also lead holders Europe against Asia at the EurAsia Cup in Malaysia.

Frenchman Alexander Levy is the other wild card selected by Bjorn to play alongside ten automatic qualifiers made up of English quartet Tommy Fleetwood, Tyrrell Hatton, Ross Fisher and Matthew Fitzpatrick, Ireland’s Paul Dunne, Spanaird Rafa Cabrera Bello, Austrian Bernd Wiesberger, Belgian Thomas Pieters and Swedish duo Alex Noren and Henrik Stenson.