Winning your first title is a magnificent achievement but they say that winning your second is even harder. It proves that you can do it again, that the first was no fluke, and that’s exactly what Tyrrell Hatton did on Sunday.
That he did it at the Dunhill Links Championship made it especially impressive. The tournament, played across three different courses at St Andrews, Carnoustie and Kingsbarns, is a great test. Hatton broke his duck there last year and retained his crown by three shots.
The Englishman had a disappointing finish in his previous outing at the British Masters having set the pace over the first 36 holes, but was top notch from start to finish this time, shooting in the 60s on all four days.
He showed his class at the first hole on Sunday where, having landed in the Swilcan Burn with his second shot, he conjured an exquisite chip in for par. The 25-year-old went bogey-free in his last three rounds and only made two all week.
Hatton was relentless. Despite Ross Fisher mounting a final-day charge that would result in a 61 – a record for the Old Course – Hatton’s lead was never in doubt. He is obviously very comfortable being a frontrunner; he took the lead on Saturday and did not let it go.
It’s a far cry from a run of six missed cuts in seven events that he endured earlier this year, starting at the US Open and ending at the US PGA Championship. You never know what could be happening behind the scenes contributing to that, but what you can say is that he seems to have turned it around.
Hatton, whose temperament has been questioned at times, spoke about how much he enjoyed having actor Jamie Dornan alongside him again during the tournament, just as he had last year, saying that their chats between holes helped to keep him relaxed.
It’s good that they had that rapport but it does raise a few questions. It sounds like Dornan was filling a role that would otherwise be played by a caddie. Your caddie should be like your best mate out there and it may be that Hatton has some work to do with his because the relationship is that important.
Hatton’s game stands up to that of any of his contemporaries, such as Tommy Fleetwood and Matthew Fitzpatrick, so if he can feel better on the course then it can only help him fulfil his potential.
In any case, his second title is great news for Europe’s Ryder Cup prospects. Proven winners coming through is exactly what we need now that it is less than a year until Europe face the United States in France.
Fisher, who also finished second to Hatton at the Dunhill 12 months ago, must be wondering what he has to do to win the damn thing. It’s nice to see the long-hitting Englishman coming back to his best, though, and he’s another who would be a good Ryder Cup option.
Victor Dubuisson, who’ll want to be part of the team in his homeland, produced a fantastic last round of 63 to finish third. He seems to have come out of the wilderness and that’s good news for golf as he’s a great character and a very flamboyant player.
Finally, a well done to American Brendan Steele for defending his Safeway Open title on the PGA Tour.