When Tyrrell Hatton was a youngster and won the Wycombe Heights Junior Masters, his prize was a mini green jacket. At the end of a successful 2013 season, where he came through the Challenge Tour, he was asked about playing for the real thing.
Hatton has now played his way to Augusta National and is now safely tucked up well inside the world’s top 50. It might surprise you to learn that the 25-year-old from Marlow is now up to 23rd in the world, good enough to be above seven of Europe’s Ryder Cup team – and four Americans – and only two places behind golf’s newest major champion, Jimmy Walker.
Not that he ever expected to be on the plane to Minneapolis. This time last year he was outside the top 100. In October he equalled the record of 62 on the Old Course and the next day picked up his first European Tour victory at the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship.
Then he finished a shot behind Matt Fitzpatrick at the Tour Championship, his £690,408 leaving him in fourth for the season. Some effort for the 2000 Wycombe Heights Junior Masters champion.
In the first of a two-part feature, NCG’s Mark Townsend meets the Augusta-bound golfer…
I see on Twitter that you have received your Masters invite?
Yes, it came through just after the new year. I think I’ll put it in a frame along with a load of other stuff I got through. They send it through to your management company and they forwarded it on to me.
Always dreamed of receiving this letter, now it's a reality.
Excited is an understatement!! ???????????? pic.twitter.com/nvvdCeHoTw
— Tyrrell Hatton (@thatton91) January 5, 2017
Your manager sends you a text every Monday with your world ranking. So you have known since the Dunhill win, when you climbed to 33 in the world, that you would be playing at Augusta?
Yes, he messages me telling me where I am. After the Dunhill I was fairly certain that I was going to get in, then having a good week in Dubai (when Hatton was second behind Fitzpatrick) basically sealed it. It’s exciting moving forward knowing all the tournaments I’m going to be playing this year.
It’s a very different start to the year being firmly ensconced in the top 50 in the world…
Yes, after Dubai I will be flying out to the States for three months. Last year I did the Desert Swing, then Malaysia and then I was home for two months.
How are you going to prepare for the Masters?
I am planning to go out there a few weeks before, just to have a few practice rounds so when I get to Augusta on the Sunday I am not going to be in awe of the place but it is still going to be really special. Hopefully I’ll get the initial excitement out of my system after I’ve played a few rounds and I know where I’m going.
What is your earliest memory of watching the Masters?
Tiger Woods in 1997 so I would have been five. Twenty years ago… I am most excited to play the 12th and all the challenges that it brings but I guess you can’t really appreciate until you play it. The whole course looks so immaculate and the whole of Amen Corner will be very special.
What did you make of Danny Willett winning last year?
I was doing a golf day for Hilton in Spain and we managed to watch the end of it, obviously it was great for English golf and everything going forward. I don’t understand why people would say that they were surprised he won. He was 12th in the world at the start of the week so it baffled me when people said that.
Presumably you will let your dad (and coach) caddie for you in the Par 3?
After everything he has done for me, I am going to have him caddie for me and let him tee off on the 9th. He’s coached me since I was 11 and we have done OK and work well together. We haven’t changed my swing in nine years, if things go slightly off then we go back to the basics. Keeping things simple is good for me because I am not overly technical as that stuff just fries my brain. The simpler the better for me.