Scotland’s Bob MacIntyre beat US Open champion Matt Fitzpatrick in a play-off to win the Italian Open after a tense final day at at Marco Simone Golf & Country Club, venue for next year’s Ryder Cup.
The 26-year-old, whose only other European Tour win came in Cyprus in 2020, started the final day three strokes off the lead, which was held by Fitzpatrick, but raced into contention as he cleared the front nine in six under par. He carded four birdies and three bogeys on the back nine, signing for a seven-under 64 as he set the clubhouse target at 14 under.
A nervous wait followed as Fitzpatrick was also 14 under with two to play, but the Yorkshireman dropped a shot on the par-three 17th. Frenchman Victor Perez then missed the opportunity to draw level with MacIntyre on 14 under as a short-range birdie putt on the 18th slipped past the hole, settling for third place in Rome. Fitzpatrick recovered with a birdie on the 18th to force extra holes, signing for a 67 after making a birdie at the last with an 50-foot two-putt from off the green.
At the first extra hole, Fitzpatrick found trouble off the tee on the 580-yard, par-five hole, and could only make a made a par, while MacIntyre was just off the green with his second shot, and hit it close with his third and then rolled in a birdie putt from three feet for victory.
The win is MacIntyre’s first in regulation strokeplay, having won his maiden DP World Tour title at the 2020 Aphrodite Hills Cyprus Showdown – winning the title in a final-day shoot-out format.
Rory McIlroy, making a rate appearance at the Italian Open, finished fourth on 12 under, while Lucas Herbert and Aaron Rai shared fifth on 11 under.
MacIntyre said: “It’s unbelievable. I didn’t think it was going to come again. I’ve struggled the last year and just felt like my game wasn’t quite there, but I’ve made a lot of changes over the last three months and my iron this week has been absolutely brilliant, and thankfully I managed to get over the line at the end.
“I thought if I get through the front nine in par we could make a move from there, but when I got off to such a hot start, I was just trying to keep pushing and stay aggressive. Obviously, I dropped a shot on 14 and 15 was a terrible bogey, but I carried on playing aggressively and thankfully it paid off.”
Having won at next year’s Ryder Cup venue, MacIntyre is keen that he be back here in 12 months’ time as a member of Luke Donald’s European team. “We are a long way off from the Ryder Cup, but it’s my number one priority to get a place on that team,” he said. “I was close last time, but this is what I want. My only goal for the season is to make the team, so I think I’ve made a good start.”