Fitzpatrick takes big step towards Ryder Cup spot

England's Matt Fitzpatrick is eyeing a third Ryder Cup appearance (Glyn KIRK)
England's Matt Fitzpatrick is eyeing a third Ryder Cup appearance (Glyn KIRK)

Matt Fitzpatrick moved closer to securing a place on Europe's Ryder Cup team by firing a five-under-par 67 to take a one-shot lead at the halfway stage of the European Masters on Friday.

The former US Open champion, who was level at the top overnight, needs only to finish tied seventh or better to qualify via the world points list for the matchplay showdown in Rome ahead of Tommy Fleetwood.

The tournament in Crans-Montana is the final qualifying event before Luke Donald names his six captain's picks on Monday.

Fitzpatrick carded six birdies and just one bogey in his second round to sit atop the leaderboard ahead of Sweden's Alexander Bjork.

His younger brother Alex Fitzpatrick is tied for third at 10-under alongside France's Romain Langasque.

"It's weird competing for a tournament because we never did it in juniors," said Matt Fitzpatrick.

"It's going to be a nightmare for my parents."

But Alex disagreed, saying: "Our parents would probably be happy because it would mean less walking, they can walk one round instead of two."

Donald's European side will try to regain the Ryder Cup from the United States in Italy from September 29 to October 1.

Jon Rahm and Rory McIlroy, via the European points list, have already secured places in the 12-man team, as have Viktor Hovland and Tyrrell Hatton, through the world points list.

Poland's Adrian Meronk, who could qualify automatically with a win in Switzerland, charged up the leaderboard to briefly tie the lead with Fitzpatrick.

But he slipped back, dropping three shots in his final two holes.

Scotland's Robert McIntyre, who currently holds the final qualifying place on the European points list, made the cut by a single shot.

But Victor Perez and Rasmus Hojgaard's hopes of qualification ended as the Frenchman and Dane both missed out on the weekend.