Tyrrell Hatton keeping it simple as he prepares for 'American adventure'

By Iain CarterBBC golf correspondent
Tyrrell Hatton
Tyrrell Hatton ended 2015 with a world ranking of 104 but has since climbed to 18th

Having climbed into the world's top 20, Tyrrell Hatton is exporting his uncomplicated approach to golf to discover if it can bring success in the United States.

This week, the 25-year-old from Buckinghamshire begins what he is calling his "American adventure" when he tees off in the Honda Classic at PGA National in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida.

He will then play the World Golf Championships event in Mexico, the Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill and the WGC Matchplay in Texas, before making his Masters debut at Augusta in April.

After that he will compete in the Heritage tournament and the Players Championship to complete a run that indicates he has truly arrived as one of the world's leading players.

But when this sometimes fiery character looks at the rankings and sees his name in such an elevated position, it still takes a while to fully register.

"That's really surreal for me," he tells BBC Sport. "In a way, I almost don't feel like it's me.

"It's obviously been an amazing last eight months and I just can't wait to get out there - they are new events for me."

We are sitting in the lounge of Harleyford Golf Club, near Marlow. Hatton has bought the coffees and is battling a cold brought on by returning to the February chill after finishing tied third at the Dubai Desert Classic.

That result lifted him to 19th in the world, and his career earnings are beyond £5m.

But he has not forgotten how it all started, and remains grateful to the members at Harleyford, 30 of whom threw £250 each into a pot to finance his early forays into the professional game on the EuroPro Tour.

Hatton's form yielded a quick return, and he has made steady progress ever since, graduating to the Challenge Tour before becoming a leading figure on the main European Tour.

At last year's Open, while the golf world was falling in love with the gregarious Andrew 'Beef' Johnston, Hatton quietly eclipsed his compatriot by finishing fifth at Royal Troon.

He quickly backed up that performance by coming 10th at the PGA Championship, and in so doing, cemented foundations that had been laid some weeks earlier, for his first Tour victory in the autumn.

In winning last October's Alfred Dunhill Links Championship, Hatton equalled the course record on the historic Old Course at St Andrews with a brilliant 62.

Tyrrell Hatton
Hatton's score of 23 under par, at last year's Alfred Dunhill Links Championship, matched the best in the event's 16-year history

All this success is the product of a very simple philosophy forged in conjunction with his coach, who also happens to be his father.

"I trust my dad, he's coached me since I was 10 or 11," Hatton says. "We haven't changed my swing for so many years. We look at certain points of the swing and make sure that they are there and generally when they are, that's when I play my best golf.

"I don't think I would be where I am at the moment if I tried to change my ways. Technical stuff would fry my brain so it works out well that we keep it as simple as possible."

Jeff Hatton is a teaching pro and custom club fitter. It took concerted hard work from him and his son in the summer of 2016 to propel Tyrrell to his current position.

Hatton Jr had been struggling and, although his game was showing signs of improvement, he needed some paternal influence as he headed to the Scottish Open at Castle Stuart, where he finished runner-up.

"It was close but I still wasn't happy so my dad came up," he says. "We did quite a lot of work on the Tuesday and I started to feel really comfortable with my game and from then on played really well and had a great week.

"I learned I have to keep practising and playing and that's what I did the week before the Dunhill.

"I'm not one for standing on the range beating balls, I much prefer just going out and playing. I just went out and played on my home course.

"From Thursday onwards I didn't shoot worse than seven under. You just get used to shooting good scores, although it is around a course where I've been a member since I was 11 so I know it well.

"But, still, shooting those scores gave me the confidence and my swing felt great at the Dunhill."

So great, in fact, that he fired that 62 in the third round en route to a four-stroke victory.

Tyrrell Hatton
Hatton finished four under at The Open last year, for a share of fifth with Sergio Garcia and Rory McIlroy

"That was amazing," he says.

"I had never shot lower than eight under in a tournament. My lowest round, even at Harleyford, is nine under. So as I was playing the 18th at St Andrews, I really wanted to birdie the last to get into double digits under par.

"I was very happy when I saw my second shot go to a foot, and when I got to the scorers, they told me I had equalled the course record on the Old Course, which is just crazy."

Hatton is naturally modest, polite and respectful - a combination far removed from the bad-tempered image that occasionally surfaces when he is playing.

"Once I get out on the golf course, I'm quite fiery," he says. "I've always been that way. I know it is an area that I need to improve on."

This was evident at the end of his opening round in his last outing in Dubai. A reasonable start was squandered as he lost his head after missing a second putt on his final green.

A careless attempt to tap in for bogey led to a ruinous four-putt and from two under he slipped to level par, with the hard work of the rest of the round swiftly undone.

"It is what it is; red mist. Thankfully it was my last hole," he laughs. "It was just one of those days where I was a little bit on edge, a bit frustrated because I was actually pulling a lot of my putts.

"I just lost my head. I'm sure if I look back and watch it on TV now I'd be cringing but it was just a spur-of-the-moment thing. I just have to try and learn from it and shouldn't do it again."

The Masters at Augusta
Hatton will make his debut at The Masters at Augusta in April

Hatton usually relies on caddie Chris Rice to bear the brunt of his fury.

So is he some sort of on-course therapist? "He'd probably say babysitter," Hatton smiles.

"But, no. We will chat about things and he's been really helpful. Last year was our first year working together and it's been very successful, so long may it continue."

That success has brought a Masters debut onto the horizon. Hatton is torn as to whether to go to Augusta for an early recce or turn up for the first time in the week of the tournament.

"At the end of the day, although it is the Masters and it will be amazing, it is just another golf tournament, so I shouldn't really prepare any differently," he says.

And while rookies rarely win the year's first major, this one has known from a very early age the feeling of wearing a winner's jacket.

"The first junior tournament that I won, when I was five or six years old, was the Wycombe Heights Junior Masters and the winner got a little green jacket," Hatton says.

"I still have it at home. It doesn't fit me now, obviously, but it's definitely a cool thing to keep."

He will stage his own Tyrrell Hatton Junior Masters event at Harleyford on September 2 this year.

More immediately, though, it is all about his American odyssey, which starts in Florida this week.

And just like his simple approach to his golf, his outlook for the coming weeks is very straightforward.

"I'm really excited and hopefully I can play well," he says.


Join the conversation

These comments are now closed.