sport

Scott impressed by Fitzpatrick

Matt Fitzpatrick earnt the praise of defending champion Adam Scott after a battling performance on his Masters debut.

Matt Fitzpatrick earnt the praise of defending champion Adam Scott after a battling performance on his Masters debut on Thursday.

Playing alongside Scott courtesy of his US Amateur victory last year, Fitzpatrick got off to a nightmare start with a double-bogey six on the first, the teenager driving into trees and then pitching over the green with his third shot.

However, the 19-year-old from Sheffield hit back with a birdie on the second and remained one over par until bogeys on the 13th, 14th and 17th meant an opening 76.

"I think he played really well," Scott said. "Obviously it was a nervous start and I stood there and thought, 'That's what I looked like many times playing the first hole at the Masters'.

"But he did hole a great putt for double bogey and that's exactly what I said to him. I said, "Great putt, get going now." And he calmed down and he birdied the next and he played fine.

"It was really great to watch him play. He swings so freely, it's nice. He's going to develop into a really good player, I think. He's got the credentials."

Fitzpatrick, who was leading amateur in the Open at Muirfield in 2013, added: "I felt like I played alright. I played well for nine after the first hole but the back nine just trickled away a little bit. Just trying too hard, a few loose shots and it cost me, really.

"When the starter said you will be marking Adam's card I got a little bit excited, but Adam's a great guy and a fantastic player. I'm playing a major championship with one of the best golfers in the world right now and I'm only 19.

"If I'd have said my soccer team (Sheffield United) would get to the semi-final of the FA Cup and I'd play at Augusta, you'd just never, ever believe me in a million years."

British Amateur champion Garrick Porteous also did well to recover from a poor start to match Fitzpatrick's 76, the 24-year-old having bogeyed the first three holes and also taking a double-bogey on the sixth.

"I had a slow start," Porteous said. "The back nine was better than the front. It was a lot of fun. I think after the birdie on number four I settled down and I got into a rhythm on the back nine."

Australia's Oliver Goss also returned a 76, with Michael McCoy six over, Chang-woo Lee eight over and Jordan Niebrugge nine over.