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Robert MacIntyre beats Matt Fitzpatrick in play-off to win Italian Open

Robert MacIntyre beats Matt Fitzpatrick in play-off to win Italian Open

Robert MacIntyre overcame U.S. Open Champion Matt Fitzpatrick in a play-off to win the 2022 DS Automobiles Italian Open and underline his match play credentials at the venue that will host next year's Ryder Cup.

MacIntyre DS Automobiles Italian Open-1424960465

The Scotsman made ten birdies and three bogeys in a spectacular 64 on Sunday to force a play-off with third-round leader Fitzpatrick before birdieing the first extra hole to claim his second DP World Tour title.

There were several twists and turns on the back nine as the lead changed hands throughout a thrilling afternoon at Marco Simone Golf and Country Club.

MacIntyre began the day three shots off the lead but made a blistering start, firing six birdies and no bogeys in a front-nine 29 which featured some remarkable ball-striking.

But his two-shot lead evaporated on the back nine as a run of three bogeys and three birdies in the seven holes immediately after the turn coincided with Fitzpatrick breaking his sequence of ten straight pars by going birdie-eagle from the 11th.

Fitzpatrick then took the outright lead with a birdie at the 16th, but just as the Englishman gave the shot straight back on the next hole, MacIntyre birdied the last to set the clubhouse target at 14 under and lead on his own.

Frenchman Victor Perez had a chance to pull alongside MacIntyre but missed his six-foot birdie putt on the last, to leave Fitzpatrick as the only man who could catch the leader.

And he did just that, knocking in his birdie putt at the 18th to force extra holes.

But after missing the fairway at the first play-off hole, Fitzpatrick could only make par, with MacIntyre's birdie enough to clinch the trophy.

Fitzpatrick's closing 67 contained an eagle, three birdies and a solitary bogey and saw him finish the tournament on 14 under, one clear of Perez in third.

Rory McIlroy was another shot back in fourth place, with Aaron Rai and Lucas Herbert in a share of fifth on 11 under.

MacIntyre opened his final round with a birdie, holing from 24 feet on the first green, before picking up another shot at the third to jump to nine under.

Some wonderful approach play set up three successive close-range birdies at the fifth, sixth and seventh before a seven-foot par save on the eighth kept MacIntyre's card clean after his second shot had narrowly avoided the water.

The Scot found the trees with his tee-shot at the long ninth but sent his third to within two feet to set up another tap-in birdie.

MacIntyre held a two-shot lead as he reached the turn but carded his first bogey of the day on the tenth to slip back to 11 under.

He gave himself another good birdie chance at the 11th but was unable to convert his seven-foot attempt.

The 26-year-old made no mistake with his birdie try at the 12th, though, restoring his two-shot advantage from ten feet.

And after lifting his tee-shot at the short 13th to 13 feet, he rolled in the putt for his eighth birdie of the day and moved to 14 under.

But having found thick rough with his tee-shot on the 14th, he dropped a shot there to open the door for the chasing pack and Fitzpatrick walked right through it, tapping in his four-foot eagle putt to join MacIntyre at the summit after his approach hit the flag, denying him an albatross.

And with MacIntyre making a second successive bogey at the 15th, Fitzpatrick found himself in possession of the outright lead.

But MacIntyre trickled in his nine-foot birdie putt at the 16th to move alongside him once more.

Fitzpatrick edged back in front with a five-foot birdie on the 16th green but could not save par at the 17th.

Just as Fitzpatrick's bogey had gifted MacIntyre a share of the lead, the Scot holed his birdie putt at the last to sit alone at the summit.

Fitzpatrick confidently birdied the last to force a play-off but could not match MacIntyre's close-range birdie at the only extra hole.

MacIntyre was thrilled with his victory and hopes to find himself back in Rome as part of Europe's Ryder Cup side next year.

He said: "It's my main goal - it's my only goal for the next year.

"At the start of the week I didn't think this week was going to be the one - the style of golf course, the way it was playing.

"But we worked on a few things on Tuesday and Wednesday and I felt so in control of my golf ball this week - my wedges, my long irons and even that hybrid that came into the bag last week.

“This means everything. I was down and out about two or three months ago.

“I didn’t know what I was doing, didn’t know where to go.

"But we spoke to the right people, started working with Simon Shanks and I’ve hit two of the perfect golf shots into the last there. There’s so much hard work gone into this."

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