21st November 2014
Tyrrell Hatton is fast becoming one of the best golfers in the world and he doesn’t appear to be hanging about either.
As recently as May 2013 he was ranked 995th in the Official World Golf Rankings. He was 376th at the end of 2013 and currently lies 153rd. A good finish at the DP World Tour Championship (DPWTC) – he lies T10 on -6 after 36-holes – should help him move comfortably into the Top 150* on Sunday.
[* A T6 finish at the DPWTC lifted TH to 132nd in the OWGR – 24/11/14]
His achievement in retaining his card for 2015 and better still qualifying for the Road To Dubai (R2D) Final Series should not be under-estimated. This year just four Challenge Tour graduates and eight Q-School qualifiers have retained their cards. Just two from each group have made it all the way to the Top 60 and the DPWTC. To date he has earned €781,280 and lies 46th in the R2D standings. This is one hard working, driven and ambitious golfer.
With no European Tour wins to his name and Brooks Koepka stealing some of his thunder he has quietly crept up all of the rankings, a little under everyone’s radar. He seems to make as much noise in the media for not wearing a cap and for occasionally blowing a little hot on the course as he does for his golfing prowess. Nevertheless, his consistent, solid play appears to quickly be taking him to golf’s top table.
So what do we know about Mr. Hatton ?
He is still young – born in 1991 he only turned 23 on 14th October – which makes his achievements over the last 18 months all the more impressive.
He is from Marlow, England and is the son of a Pro – Jeff Hatton, his dad, still coaches him and fits his clubs. He started swinging a club as soon as he could stand up and started playing at Wycombe Heights Par 3 Short Course when he was three. When he reached 11 he joined Harleyford Golf Club and his association with them continues to this day. Unsurprisingly he holds the course record with a 65 which he shot there in 2010.
His amateur career was good if unspectacular. A few minor wins and a number of creditable performances seems to have been the story. He represented his county, Berkshire, Buckinghamshire & Oxfordshire (BB&O) and was selected for both the England U18 Boys and Men’s teams on occasion. He qualified for the 2010 Open at St. Andrews as an amateur and was in the shake up for a 2011 Walker Cup spot but ultimately missed out. Tommy Fleetwood (the other English golfer making real headway this year), Tom Lewis, Eddie Pepperell and Andy Sullivan were amongst his peers at this time.
With a handicap of +4.3 he turned Pro on 18th August 2011, signing up with John Fay’s Georgia Group. He is relatively small for a modern Pro – just 5ft 9″ and 11st 7lbs but is well built and clearly generates good club head speed. It also helps that he is normally an excellent putter.
He made his way out on to the Satellite Tours and secured his first win at Woodcote Park on the Jamega Pro Golf Tour that September. He fell at the Second Stage of the European Tour’s Q-School process but won the 2012 PGA EuroPro Tour Q-School which broadened his playing opportunities. He enjoyed another win at Caversham Heath on the Jamega in 2012 and quickly followed it by winning the Your Golf Travel Classic at Bovey Castle in Devon on the Europro. He was also invited to play in eleven Challenge Tour events in 2012, finishing the season ranked 77th (€18,015) and thus earning himself full 2013 playing rights.
Tyrrell demonstrated his consistency in 2013 playing in 17 Challenge Tour events and only missing two cuts. He made his European Tour debut in June having been given an invite to the Lyoness Open in Austria – he finished 19th. However, the real turning point last year came in September when his Dad produced a Ping i20 driver for him to try. His increased confidence off the tee led to two late-season T2’s in the Kazakhstan and Foshan (China) Opens and ultimately qualification for the Challenge Tour’s season finale in Dubai at Al Badia. A creditable T6 there led to him finishing 10th (€92,114) in the Challenge Tour rankings and better still promotion to the European Tour.
After missing two early cuts on the 2014 European Tour he gained a lot of confidence from a T10 finish in the star-studded Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship in January. Whilst he has missed 9 cuts this year from the 29 events he has completed to date he comfortably retained his card and a place in the R2D Final Series. The other highlights being a T2 at the Joburg Open, a T4 at the AAM Scottish Open and a T3 at the Omega European Open in Switzerland.
The only negative in Tyrrell’s rise to the top of the European Tour has been his occasional lapses in on-course behaviour. This was most notable in the Scottish Open, when playing under the pressure of a possible first win and automatic qualification for the following week’s Open, he appeared to over-react to most shots and was far from the supposedly calm state beloved of sporting psychologists. As a result of this high profile show and other scenes this year his temperament has been questioned by some. However, I believe as long as it stays within the boundaries of acceptability and doesn’t overly effect his play – which it hasn’t – he should be cut some slack in this regard. I know I am a bit more relaxed about course conduct than some but I am all for a bit of passion and personality. Nowadays too many golfers are congratulated for being Robo-Pro ice-men. There is nothing wrong with wearing your heart on your sleeve.
Good luck to Tyrrell over the weekend in Dubai. It would be great to see him finish the season in style with a high finish. He is an exciting player to watch and is fast becoming a great example to young Amateurs and aspiring Pros with ambitions in the game. Whilst some troughs in form will no doubt need to be overcome in the years ahead I for one hope he can continue pushing on and quickly gain entry to all of the Majors and WGC events. When it comes to GB&I players at the top of the game – the more the better for me !
How far do you think Tyrrell can go in the game ?
Copyright © 2014, Mark Eley. All rights reserved.