'Tyrrell Hatton's Turkish Open win great for British golf'

By Iain CarterBBC golf correspondent
Tyrell Hatton
Tyrell Hatton won the Turkish Airlines Open under floodlights this month

It took a while to get there but the Turkish Open ultimately provided a climax and winner of genuine substance.

Tyrrell Hatton is back - and that is great news for British and European golf. The-28-year-old from High Wycombe is a serious talent and his Turkish triumph was his first in two years and fourth on the European Tour.

This was the gutsiest of wins as Hatton prevailed in a six-man play-off nearly seven hours after starting his final round. They finished so late the tournament ended under floodlights.

More by accident than design, the tour may have stumbled across something for the future. The images of golf under the lights - with the players repeatedly taking on the 18th - created a real sense of occasion and spectacle as Hatton emerged last man standing.

Under chief executive Keith Pelley, the European Tour considers itself part of the entertainment industry and sudden death under the lights was spellbinding fare.

While golf in the dark is fraught with difficulties and venues suitably equipped are few and far between, the tour will surely take note of what was a great look for the game in Turkey.

However, taking so long to determine the overall outcome tests the patience of watching fans to an almost intolerable level. Whenever final rounds are played in three-balls the narrative invariably takes too long to develop.

With four extra holes required to establish a winner, the question was: How many of the television audience were still around to witness the compelling climax?

Nevertheless it yielded a deserving winner, who dug deep for his victory by chipping in for birdie at the first extra hole just to remain alive in the play-off.

Hatton has put behind him a rocky spell that threatened his top-50 status. Now back up to 30 in the world, the Englishman has finished inside the top 18 in his past five tournaments.

He is one of those players who gets on a roll and thrives off confidence, playing a very simple game where he sees a shot and executes it.

A prime example was that chip in, and it required tapping into the psyche of his junior days at Harleyford Golf Club. There he would not finish a practice session without trying to hole three chips in a row.

Yes, his temper often betters him, but Hatton's uncomplicated approach still serves him brilliantly. Top-50 status means eligibility for every big event, which provides the ideal platform to retain his place in Europe's Ryder Cup team.

Given his recent travails and emerging a winner once again, it is a fair bet that captain Padraig Harrington would have a more mature, better-equipped player at his disposal next year than the one who made his debut in France in 2018.

Before that, Hatton needs to come through successful wrist surgery, which will take place after the completion of the Race to Dubai later this month. This week he takes a well-deserved break before the season finale in the Middle East.

This win was huge. What was an awkward year, in which he switched management companies, has turned into a very satisfactory one that maintains a highly promising career trajectory.

Another Englishman feeling highly satisfied is Richard Bland. The 46-year-old regained his European Tour card by finishing third in the Challenge Tour standings following the completion of the Road to Mallorca.

Bland was one of seven UK players to finish in the top 15 and secure playing privileges on the main tour. Scots Calum Hill (second) and Conor Syme (14th) also have plenty to look forward to in 2020.

The same applies to former Walker Cup player Jack Senior (sixth), Hoylake's Matthew Jordan (ninth), Cormac Sharvin of Northern Ireland (11th) and Welshman Oliver Farr (12th).

They have emerged from one of golf's toughest finishing schools. Success on the Challenge Tour does not come easy and the opportunities these players have created were extremely hard-earned.

"Feels great to be back on the European Tour, can't wait to get started," Bland tweeted after securing his card.

Surrounded by so much young talent, the Hampshire-based veteran deserves huge credit after a weekend that provided plenty for golf fans to celebrate.


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