Matt Fitzpatrick can’t fix a first-round 76, ending the day scoring a 71 and sitting at three over

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Matt Fitzpatrick can’t undo the damage of a first-round 76, ending the day scoring a 71 and sitting at three over… leaving the US Open champion unlikely to make the cut

Matt Fitzpatrick was shooting freely and hitting bullseyes on Friday. The issue there is he reserved his most incisive work for his words off the course at the Players Championship rather than his play on it.

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The US Open champion’s second-round 71 at the Players Championship was unable to fix the damage caused by an opening 76, with his three-over tally highly unlikely to be sufficient to keep him around for the weekend.

Afterwards he made a compelling re-entry to one of the many political squabbles engulfing his sport. Specifically, the Englishman took aim at the relationship imbalance between the PGA and European circuits, with his view that the latter is on a downward spiral to lesser significance because of its ‘strategic alliance’ with the former.

While the alliance 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 the elites crossing over to play in Europe. There are also concerns about the provision that means the top 10 in Europe each season will gain cards to the PGA Tour.

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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.

Matt Fitzpatrick wasn't able to make up enough ground to stay in the Players on Friday

Matt Fitzpatrick wasn’t able to make up enough ground to stay in the Players on Friday

After a shocking first-round 76, he responded with a second round 71 to finish at +3

After a shocking first-round 76, he responded with a second round 71 to finish at +3

Fitzpatrick griped post-round that the PGA Tour isn't doing enough to help the DP World Tour

Fitzpatrick griped post-round that the PGA Tour isn’t doing enough to help the DP World Tour

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

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While Rory McIlroy has been a keen backer and driver of changes to the PGA Tour, Fitzpatrick added: ‘The message (from the handing of PGA Tour cards to the top 10) 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 going forward.

‘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.’

With the projected cut at one over, McIlroy was hopelessly adrift at six over through 10 holes when play was suspended due to stormy weather. His playing partner, the world No 1 Jon Rahm, withdrew in the morning because of illness. 

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