HATTON CHARGE IS A RECORD BREAKER
OUTWARD displays of joy are often conspicuous by their absence in the labours of Tyrrell Hatton, but a record-breaking back nine at the Players Championship seemed to do the trick. He even managed a grin. Never before had anyone navigated that stretch of Sawgrass in 29 strokes on the final day of this unofficial fifth major, but in doing so the Englishman fired his way into the clubhouse lead on 12-under par with a brilliant 65.
That was unlikely to be enough for the win, given the Scottie Scheffler train was motoring away at 17 under through 15 holes of his last round.
But in finishing with five straight birdies Hatton was looking good for second, which would be worth £2.2million and some valuable Ryder Cup points. So not quite a full heist, but Hatton’s momentum is building rapidly ahead of the Masters. Hatton, whose previous three outings on the PGA Tour include two finishes in the top six, said: ‘It was a pretty mad two-and-a-half hours in the end. I’m really happy with how it’s played out. It sounds horrible to say something positive, I guess, but it’s one of my favourite golf courses.’ That was best illustrated on the brutal closing hole, where on the back of four birdies from the 14th he was in dire trouble in the pinestraw, way out to the right in a cluster of trees. With 201 yards to the flag, he took aim at the lake and played a devilish fade to just 11ft. The putt dropped and Hatton was on course to beat the biggest cheque of his career by in the region of £1m.
He added: ‘Considering where I was at the start of the back nine — probably tied 34th or something like that — if you had said that you would finish second in the tournament or tied second, I think you would take that.’
With Rory McIlroy missing the cut and Jon Rahm withdrawing with illness, Scheffler was on his way to re-establishing himself as world No 1.
The American, the Masters champion, was closing in on his sixth win in 13 months after following a bogey at the third hole with five consecutive birdies from the eighth. Justin Rose made a late charge to 10 under before dropping a couple of strokes after firing into the water at the 17th hole. He finished eight under.