The 28-year-old has burst into the world’s top 10 for the first time after securing his third piece of big-time silverware in 11 months
Dreams sometimes do not just merely come true; on occasion the reality can even take the daft narrative and run somewhere even more fantastical. So it proved in the idyllic surroundings of Surrey on Sunday.
Early in the morning, Tyrrell Hatton’s mother, Karen, texted her son a picture of him as a five-year-old next to the 18th green at Wentworth from the 1996 BMW PGA Championship. Her ploy was to give Tyrrell that crucial motivation. Undoubtedly, mother’s instinct was once again spot on.
Yet, as Hatton said after his four-stroke victory: “My ambition as that kid was simply to get to play in this tournament. I guess I’ve gone a little bit further.”
The £1 million cheque is only the start of it, as is his third piece of big-time silverware in 11 months, a feat made all the remarkable by the fact Hatton went through complex surgery on a wrist injury in that period.
As an added, almost historic extra, Hatton, 28, has burst into the world’s top 10 for the first time – making him the 10th Englishman to achieve this honour since the rankings were inaugurated in 1986 – and he moves up to seventh in the Race to Dubai with a first order of merit prize another legitimate goal.
And, do not forget, it happens to be the Masters in five weeks and not just because of this, but his PGA Tour breakthrough at the Arnold Palmer Invitational in Florida, many a punter will be circling his name on those betting lists.
Yet before Augusta comes into his focus, Hatton’s main aim on Sunday night was to meet up with his family and celebrate a triumph that in that little boy’s eyes of 24 years ago was as good as it could possibly get. Heaven and the Green Jacket could clearly wait.
“This was definitely a goal in my career to win here,” Hatton said. “I’m very thankful that I managed to get the job done today. I was three ahead going out, but knew that somebody would make a fast start and well done to Victor [Perez] for doing so. I just had to manage myself and not allow myself to get in my own way. The experience I had in 2016 here definitely helped me.”
Four years ago, Hatton strode out on the Sunday full of confidence but shot a 75. Perez took his first chance at the circuit’s flagship event rather more forcefully. This was only his 46th event on Tour, but he put up a brave fight in a bid to replicate his win in the Dunhill Links last year.
Padraig Harrington, the Europe Ryder Cup captain, will have taken notice. Perez was inside the automatic qualifying positions anyway before they were frozen in July when the match was put back a year.
The 28-year-old from Hautes-Pyrenees is a curious case. Perez has relocated to Dundee, where his girlfriend is studying for a dental qualification. With all the big names behind, it was expected that Patrick Reed, the world No 9, or Tommy Fleetwood, the No 14, would have most earnestly taken up the pursuit.
Except, it was Perez. The Frenchman made up the three-shot deficit within four holes – an eagle on the fourth wonderfully converted – and then stuck on to Hatton’s ankles in the manner of le bull terrier.
However, it was the ensuing patch of top-level pressurised golf that marks Hatton out as a potential major winner. He did not play his best, but his short game, particularly his chipping, clicked into winning mode. But even up the last, when he was three clear, Hatton was gripped by anxiety.
“The leaderboard had stopped working on the 18th tee, so I didn’t know where I stood,“ Hatton said. “The nerves were there and with my second I played probably the worst shot of any champion ever here. I caught the ground about two inches before the ball and I was quite lucky it got over the hazard to be honest.”
Hatton pitched up to six feet for the closing birdie and all that was left, after talking to his father/mentor Jeff on the iPad, was to peer wistfully at the trophy, inscribed with such names as Arnold Palmer and Seve Ballesteros. “It’s a huge honour to add my name to that list,” he said. “It’s another massive box ticked.”
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Actu monde – GB – Tyrrell Hatton snaps up PGA title at Wentworth with a little motivation from his younger self