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Tougher set-up would boost my chance of first Major: Fitzpatrick

 

By Carl Markham

Matt Fitzpatrick believes his chances of a first Major title will be boosted if Carnoustie turns into "Car-nasty" again for this week's Open Championship.

That nickname was inspired by the 1999 Open at the same venue, when a combination of a severe course set-up and bad weather sent scores soaring.

The 156-strong field finished the week an amazing 3,746 over par, and that's with 81 players completing only two rounds and two more, Americans Fred Funk and Tom Gillis, quitting after shooting 83 and 90 respectively on the opening day.

A 19-year-old Sergio Garcia, who had won the Irish Open a fortnight earlier, departed in tears in the arms of his mother after rounds of 89 and 83 left him last, with Paul Lawrie eventually winning in a play-off after finishing tied with Jean van de Velde and Justin Leonard on six-over.

Lessons were learned when the Open returned to Carnoustie in 2007, but Fitzpatrick admits he is probably the only player in the field who would like a repeat of 1999, and was also in favour of how the USGA set up Shinnecock Hills for last month's US Open.

"In my ideal world I would love it to be like it was when they put all the fertiliser on the rough and it grew six-foot high," Fitzpatrick (23) said.

"I'm sure I'm the only one thinking that, but then I'm the one who thought the USGA did a great job in the US Open and I loved playing Shinnecock Hills the way it was. That's obviously just me."

Fitzpatrick's best finish in a Major is a tie for seventh in the Masters in 2016, with his next best a tie for 12th at Shinnecock Hills, where the USGA admitted they had gone "too far" with aspects of the course set-up after an horrendous round three.

"When everything is on, any of the Majors is a good chance to win, but for me personally it depends on how they set the courses up," former US Amateur champion Fitzpatrick added.

"You look at Erin Hills for the US Open two years ago and I never stood a chance. I hit 80 per cent of fairways and was still minus six in strokes gained driving.

"Whereas Shinnecock I felt was right up my street. It was tight off the tee, the greens were tricky, it required good putting and I feel like it's much more my cup of tea."

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