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Tyrrell Hatton cards first final-round, back-nine 29 at THE PLAYERS

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Tyrrell Hatton cards first final-round, back-nine 29 at THE PLAYERS

Englishman records five consecutive closing birdies at TPC Sawgrass

    Written by Kevin Prise @PGATOURKevin

    PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. – Tyrrell Hatton needed birdie on the closing hole of THE PLAYERS Championship to card the first final-round, back-nine 29 in tournament history – but his tee shot suggested a birdie might not be in the cards.

    Hatton drove the ball into the trees right of the fairway, meaning he’d need an aggressive line over the water, with a hard cut, to get the ball anywhere near the hole.

    The Englishman pulled it off, his 203-yard approach landing in the middle of the green and releasing to 11 feet. He drained it for his fifth consecutive birdie, his sixth in seven holes and his seventh of the final nine.

    Tyrrell Hatton escapes the pine straw for closing birdie at THE PLAYERS

    Hatton’s final-round, 7-under 65 at TPC Sawgrass’ THE PLAYERS Stadium Course was good for a 12-under tournament total, low man in the clubhouse as leader Scottie Scheffler traversed the final nine.

    After beginning the day in 26th place, the fiery Hatton could do nothing but smile after his birdie putt dropped. The 11-footer was his second longest birdie putt of the seven on a final nine marked by precision.

    “It was a risky shot, but it never crossed my mind to just try and chip out,” Hatton said after signing his scorecard Sunday at TPC Sawgrass. “The wind was sort of in off the left, so it was kind of helping me … at the end of the day, I was just trying to cut it, and over-cutting it is going to be a better miss than coming out dead straight.

    “What made it more good was the lie; I couldn’t quite get the club properly behind the ball and had to hover it quite far back. For it to come out as well as it did, obviously I was delighted with. Then, yeah, very happy to hole the putt.”

    Hatton’s final nine at TPC Sawgrass was not only redemption for a body of work that left him “pretty mad” on the 10th tee Sunday, but also for a water ball on the island-green, par-3 17th hole Friday and subsequent double bogey.

    Hatton’s tee shot on No. 17 Sunday took an aggressive line to the traditional final-round, back-right hole location; his ball settled 3 feet from the cup, and he converted for his fourth of five consecutive closing birdies.

    Tyrrell Hatton nearly aces No. 17 to set up birdie at THE PLAYERS

    Hatton began the week at No. 69 on the FedExCup, a fact of which he was very much aware in his post-round comments Sunday. He’ll make a significant jump with his finish at THE PLAYERS, a career-best showing at TPC Sawgrass.

    Hatton began his PLAYERS career with a T41 and three missed cuts, but he showed well at TPC Sawgrass in 2022 (T13). This year, he continued the upward trend – and then some.

    “Sounds horrible to say something positive,” Hatton quipped, “but it’s one of my favorite golf courses. There are couple of tee shots that I probably struggle with more than other lads that have a more natural right-to-left or drawers of the ball, but I think it’s such a pretty golf course.

    “Considering where I was at the start of the back nine, I was probably tied 34th or something like that … really happy with how it’s played out. Good day’s work.”

    Kevin Prise is an associate editor for the PGA TOUR. He is on a lifelong quest to break 80 on a course that exceeds 6,000 yards and to see the Buffalo Bills win a Super Bowl. Follow Kevin Prise on Twitter.

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