Players Championship: Can Matthew Fitzpatrick be the first English winner?

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Matthew Fitzpatrick had 11 top-10 finishes in 2019 – became second four times on the Players ChampionshipDates: March 12-15 Location: Sawgrass, Pontre Vedra Beach, Florida Coverage: Daily reports on the BBC website, plus live text commentary on the third and final rounds

Tyrrell Hatton won in Bay Hill after Tommy Fleetwood closed temptingly a week earlier, so while we are entering the third and most important stage of the Florida swing, it is legitimate to wonder if the further English can be successful deliver.

It takes every player so much to place consecutive wins on the PGA Tour, while Fleetwood has to bounce back from a rare missed cut in Bay Hill last week.

But another Englishman, Matthew Fitzpatrick, may be ready to pick up the baton here in the Players Championship. The Sheffield star was the only player who placed a sub-70 round in the cruel conditions that prevailed with Arnie last weekend.

Given its consistency over the past year, it is reasonable to anticipate much imminent success for the 25 year old. Without adding to his six professional wins, Fitzpatrick placed four runner-up finishes at 11 top 10 & # 39; s in 2019.

Everything missing was a victory, and this year started in a similar way when he finished second in January's Abu Dhabi championship. Last Sunday's amazing 69, which included a double bogey on the 17th, suggests that he might hit the form at the right time.

Ask him what his priorities for 2020 are and he will tell you right away: "The majors" That was his answer when asked if a return to Europe's Ryder Cup team is his primary goal .

Well, the players aren't big but it's closest, and Fitzpatrick has a game to thrive around the tricky, treacherous Sawgrass Stadium Course of 7,189 meters.

This is his fifth visit and although a best finish of bound 41st does not inspire enormous confidence, a breakdown of the required attributes for this week suggests that this could be the week he claims.

When in shape, Fitzpatrick & # 39; s iron game is one of the best in the world and has a certain touch on and around the greens. The one who wins this week is particularly skilled in those areas.

But the players are a notoriously difficult tournament to predict. Nobody has successfully defended this title, indeed no reigning champion has reached the top 10 since Adam Scott in 2005.

That does not bode well for Rory McIlroy, who won so exciting 12 months ago. The Northern Irishman is still waiting for his first victory of the year, but his shape is remarkably consistent.

McIlroy finished third in Los Angeles in his opening event of 2020 and finished fifth in all three of his successive appearances.

Highlights: McIlroy wins 2019 Players Championship

The challenge now is to take advantage of this unwavering excellence and become more than just a guaranteed source of payout for a place. It was the same 12 months ago when he also encountered a series of near-accidents in the run-up to this event.

"There are many similarities between this year and last year," he told BBC Sport.

"What I can get the most out of it is that I know my game is there. I stand myself week in, week out, even if I don't feel that I have my best things, probably a few years ago was not the case.

"So to be as consistent as I am, is great, but I must try to start making these top five, in-contentions and mediocre Sundays in a little more, and there is no better week to start than this week. "

As always, it is a stacked field for the PGA Tour flagship event, despite the absence of injured Masters champion Tiger Woods.

It is too early to determine what kind of player most likely to succeed in March on a very green, oversized job, y finished it last year, but the chase package was an eclectic couple.

Veteran Jim Furyk was just one lag behind with Eddie Pepperell and Jhonattan Vegas who came in third. Of the biggest current names, only Fleetwood, Dustin Johnson, Justin Rose and Hideki Matsuyama finished in the top 11.

It's such a place, idiosyncratic and unpredictable. " is such a cliché here, but it really doesn't suit one playing style or any type of player, "said McIlroy.

The defending champion and Sandy Lyle are the only British winners of the Players.

All v Ear rings require a whole series of reservations, but the shape of Hatton, Fleetwood and perhaps Fitzpatrick suggests that this could be the year for England to break its duck.

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