Daily Mail

Fitzpatric­k hits out at imbalanced Tour alliance


MATT FITZPATRIC­K was shooting freely and hitting bullseyes yesterday. The issue, though, was that he reserved his most incisive work for off the course at the Players Championsh­ip, rather than on it.

The US Open champion’s second-round 71 was unable to fix the damage caused by an opening 76, with his three-over tally highly unlikely to be enough to keep him around for the weekend at Sawgrass. But afterwards he made a compelling re-entry to one of the many political squabbles engulfing golf.

The Englishman took aim at the relationsh­ip between the PGA and European circuits, with his view that the latter is on a downward spiral because of its ‘strategic alliance’ with the former.

While the deal agreed in 2021 was depicted as a financial saviour for the DP World Tour during Covid, it has since come under scrutiny, with the PGA Tour’s roll out of ‘designated events’ seemingly limiting the likelihood of elite players crossing to play in Europe. There are also concerns about the provision that the top 10 in Europe gain cards to the PGA Tour each season. Fitzpatric­k said: ‘You’ve only got to look at the field back home and how many times the top players are going back to play.

‘My biggest gripe is that the PGA Tour aren’t doing enough, if it’s a strategic alliance, to help build up the DP World Tour. ‘People will say I’m one of those who has left the European Tour, but I haven’t. I still play over there, but the best players are over here and I need to compete against them as often as I can.

‘I will still go back but I really don’t know how often you can do that when it’s all geared to playing here.’

While Rory McIlroy has been a keen driver of changes to the PGA Tour, Fitzpatric­k said of the handing of PGA Tour cards to Europe’s top 10: ‘The message is that you’ve got to play over here and it will just make it more difficult for the European Tour to get strong fields. ‘The Tour seemed to be on a good path, then Covid came, and everything that has happened since then has blown it out of the water really.’

At the time of going to press, McIlroy was six-over for the tournament through seven holes of his second round, five adrift of the one-over cut line. American Ben Griffin held the clubhouse lead on six-under after a second round 71, but world No 1 Jon Rahm withdrew with illness before the start of his second round.

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