After his brilliant win at Bay Hill Tyrrell Hatton might be set for a very big year. And, whisper it, the mental blow-ups might be a thing of the past
To watch Tyrrell Hatton play golf for the first time you would come to some very easy conclusions as he huffed and puffed his way round Bay Hill. Part of his repertoire included kicking at turf, swishing his clubs around in fresh air, bemoaning his own luck, pointing the finger in everyone’s direction but his own, and repeatedly slapping his own backside when he’s been a naughty boy on the greens.
You might, understandably, want to write him off as a pain in everyone else’s backside.
Listen to Hatton talk about his own golf and you might then cut him some slack. To sit down and talk with him in person, speak as you find and all that, and you come away being quite a big fan.
Scroll through the usual Twitter timeline and the good guys were all quick to send a few kind words.
David Feherty, in his Sunday on-course commentary, put it well when he said that Hatton was nice to everyone with himself.
“That’s probably a good thing to say, actually,” Hatton said. “Yeah, like I’m a shy person, but I feel like I’m nice but obviously to myself I give myself a hard time and that’s one thing that I should probably get better at.”
When you think of someone who might have to grind it out in high winds, thick rough and rapid greens then Hatton might not be your go-to player. His previous wins – two Dunhills and the Italian and Turkish Opens – on the European Tour all came with scores of 20-under or better, and another easy conclusion would be that he might not be the most patient when it comes to slogging it out with a winning total of -4.
Whether this has come through maturity is anybody’s guess, or just another simple generalisation, but he’s done it and, better still with Paul Azinger’s nonsense of last week, he’s done it on the PGA Tour.
He’s also now up to 22nd in the world, in prime position for a second Ryder Cup appearance and nudging Justin Rose for the second GB Olympic slot.
“After the double on 11, which was pretty tough to take, I feel like I could easily have blown up after that and managed to kind of keep my head a little bit,” Hatton explained. “The wind just completely dropped. So that kind of went against us and I was just having a little moan, like it’s the grass’s fault and the wind’s fault. It’s never my fault.
“That’s always going to happen with me. As long as it’s not kind of keeping on over to the next shot, then I’ll be OK. Obviously I was getting frustrated at times but nowhere near the blow-ups that I am capable of. Patience is one of the hardest things with me. To think that I’ve shot 3-over for the weekend and I’ve ended up winning the tournament. If you told me that on Friday night I wouldn’t have believed you.”
Another big factor is his caddie, Mick Donaghy, who is one of the game’s more colourful characters and someone who also got plenty of plaudits following the win. They’ve been together since last May and claimed their first win together in Turkey in the six-man play-off under the lights.
If the 11th was the low point – Hatton hit driver into the water before making a six-footer for a double – then it was quickly followed by one of his best tee shots of the day at the next hole.
“He just told me to get focused again – it’s done, move on – and have a few practice swings and just get some good feelings again. And I stood on the 12th tee and that was probably one of the best tee shots that I hit.”
Hatton, laughing, added: “I’ve loved working with him. He’s a national treasure, I think. He’s so funny.”
And when you’re next ready to write Hatton off for not interacting with the fans and putting on the usual charm offensive then you might want to think again.
“I’m quite a shy person so I don’t often put my fist out. It’s not me being rude or custard pie on anyone, it’s just I’m shy and that’s not what I do.”