Tyrrell Hatton has had one of the best years in his career, climbing to 23rd in the world rankings having won the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship at the back end of 2016.
In part one of our featured interview he revealed all about his Masters invite, his mental game and a slightly odd birdie superstition with a banana.
Now Hatton tells NCG of his love for Wentworth, what it meant to get in the winners’ circle, and and looks back on his tied fifth finish at the Open Championship at Royal Troon.
Where have the big learning curves been over the past year?
Wentworth was a big one for me as it’s a tournament that means more to me than most. It is the one I grew up watching, going there every year as a kid and being in awe of the players. On the Sunday last year I was going out in the final group, one off the lead and the first time I’ve been in a final group.
I didn’t get off to a fast start with some pars and I missed some opportunities, got frustrated and tried forcing it. Obviously I made some mistakes and went backwards. Ricey (Chris Rice, Hatton’s caddie) said to me walking down 18 that you’ll learn from this. If I had been two under for that round then I would have been leading coming down the 18th.
It shows you can’t get ahead of yourself and it’s so important to just focus on the present and stay relaxed. That is one thing I definitely tried doing in the Scottish Open as I was again in the final group and I held a good putt to finish outright second behind Alex Noren. I didn’t win but I handled the situation a lot better than I did at Wentworth.
When you first went to Wentworth as a youngster, who would be the first player you would try and watch?
Well, my earliest memory of Wentworth was when they had the Volvo Match Play and Vijay Singh nearly killed me. He nearly took my head off up by the green so I remember that but luckily it didn’t hit me. I would generally follow Colin Montgomerie. When I was younger Callaway would help me out and he was with Callaway so he would be the first person I would try and watch.
How much did you think about the need to win at the Dunhill last year?
Part of me wondered if I ever would win, it is only human to think like that. It is funny, I just had a feeling that I was going to play well, with Ricey alongside me, the format and playing with my good friend Ross Fisher on the final day helped.
The whole day I was relaxed. Obviously I was nervous but I always felt like I was going to play well. And I went out in four under…
Did you know what the course record on the Old Course was as you were making birdie after birdie on the Saturday?
I didn’t have a clue. I’ve never shot 10 under before in any round, even just messing about at home. I birdied the 14th and then the next and got to nine under after a three at the 17th. I was like, this is your chance, you’ve got to shoot 10 under and I got it in nice and close with my second shot to the last so had a tap in. Then I got told it was the course record and I couldn’t believe it.
Was there a shot on the Sunday which particularly relaxed you?
I birdied the 12th and the 14th to go six under for the day. I was sort of relaxed and then I hit a 9-iron on the 15th to about six feet and, after I hit that shot, I just felt I was going to win. And then I pulled a 7-iron into the Road Hole bunker and I thought I was going to be in there until it got dark!
St Andrews has played a prominent part in your career. What was it like to play in the 2010 Open there as an amateur?
I did regional qualifying at Gog Magog and I actually got through there in a play-off. I think I shot two under and ended up in a five man play-off for three spots and I birdied the first play-off hole which was nice.
Then I ended up going to Ladybank for local qualifying and I think I shot four under and two under so finished tied first with Phil Archer. The actual Open was amazing. It was weird as I wasn’t nervous during the tournament or on the 1st tee.
I was nervous when I got to the range on the Monday. I’d just rocked up to hit balls and Angel Cabrera was next to me just ripping his driver. I was there thinning lob wedges down there and I was thinking this could be a long week.