Hatton keeps his cool at Bay Hill for first PGA TOUR win
Tyrrell Hatton becomes the 5th straight international winner at the Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by Mastercard
March 08, 2020
By Ben Everill, PGATOUR.COM
Tyrrell Hatton's interview after winning Arnold Palmer
ORLANDO, Fla. – Perhaps they should call him "Happy" Hatton.
As a nickname for English golfer Tyrrell Hatton “Happy” works two-fold. First in the irony category … like calling a redhead "Bluey" or an NBA star "Shorty". Hatton seems anything but happy on the golf course most weeks.
Secondly, particularly for anyone born anytime in the 1970s or 80s, you can’t help but see iconic movie character “Happy Gilmore” in your mind while watching him.
Hatton has admitted he has some anger issues when it comes to his own golf game and the standards he expects of himself. A blow up or two is never far away much like Gilmore when he first takes up the sport in the iconic 1996 movie. But also like Gilmore, Hatton is able to harness it at times and still find ultimate success.
“I'm nice but obviously to myself I give myself a hard time and that's one thing that I should probably get better at,” the 28-year-old says.
On Sunday at the Arnold Palmer Invitational Presented by Mastercard, the range of emotions was on display once more as he converted a two-shot 54-hole lead into a first PGA TOUR win to go with his four European Tour titles.
Through eight holes, Hatton had bounced back from two early bogeys to reestablish a two-shot lead and looked pretty comfortable. But as eventual runner-up Marc Leishman would say after falling a shot short of Hatton, “of all the courses on the PGA TOUR, this is the last one you'd pick to have a two-shot lead with three to go.”
That is because Bay Hill can turn up a big number at any moment. For the second straight day it played very tough indeed, allowing just one round in the 60s on Saturday and Sunday. No one was immune. Consider Hatton’s 68-69-73-74 made him the first player since Geoff Ogilvy in the 2006 U.S. Open to win with two over-par rounds on the weekend.
And just ask Rory McIlroy who had two double bogeys on the front nine to go from tied for the lead to out of the mix. It was almost as if you could hear legendary broadcaster Verne Lundquist saying one of the oft-quoted lines from “Happy Gilmore” … “uh oh, here comes the putter throw… ” for each putt Hatton missed. Surely it was only a matter of time before implosion.
It was. Despite the fact Hatton led by three when he was on the 11th tee box he strangely pulled out his driver. It meant a water hazard was in reach and sure enough the tee shot bounded into a watery grave. Soon after he was grinding on a six-footer for double bogey.
Inside those 15 minutes or so were the trademark over dramatic gestures and negative self-talk … and at one point Hatton wacked himself hard in the back with the handle of his putter a handful of times.
“It was really tough out there and obviously I was getting frustrated at times, but nowhere near the blowups that I am capable of. And it's just one of those days where you just got to stick in there, and patience is one of the hardest things with me,” he would say of the episode.
“I said yesterday the hardest thing for me will be to manage myself. And over the course of this week I feel like I did a decent job of that.”
Some would argue he failed to manage it. But if you watch closely enough you come to realize that in fact it seems almost necessary for Hatton to let off steam this way. Like a pressure valve releasing. Gilmore learned to go to his happy place to move on from his anger. Hatton is similar but he goes there after he releases the pressure first. Besides, he managed it well enough to still win.
Tyrrell Hatton's Round 4 highlights from Arnold Palmer
“It was so tough and obviously everyone's dropping shots quite easily. And after the double on 11, which was pretty tough to take … I did get a bit frustrated,” he said while sitting inside the replica Arnold Palmer red cardigan given to the winner with the large trophy also by his side.
“That's always going to happen with me. And as long as it's not kind of keeping on over to the next shot, then I'll be okay. I'm just happy that I've managed myself well enough this week to be sitting here.”
His caddie Mick Donaghy is a big part of the blow up and then refocus routine. He is tasked with making sure that nothing dwells past those initial moments. And after 11 would be a critical juncture on this day.
“I was just annoyed because my third shot in was actually one of the best swings I made all day. I was just having a little moan, like it's the grass's fault and the wind's fault. It's never my fault,” Hatton continued.
“But Mick was really good. He just told me to kind of get focused again, it's done, move on, and have a few practice swings and just kind of get some good feelings again. And I stood on the 12th tee and that was probably one of the best tee shots, certainly, that I hit today.”
From that point on, as Leishman and Sungjae Im tried to mount a charge, Hatton ground out seven straight pars. Even when Leishman, the 2017 winner at Bay Hill, got within one with two to play, Hatton remained steady. In fact he played the final two holes with stoicism to claim the win and a three-year exemption on the PGA TOUR in just his second event back from right wrist surgery.
“It's an incredible feeling to win at such an iconic venue and with obviously Arnie's name to it,” he would say after moving to 14th in the FedExCup. “Hopefully I can push on and keep climbing.”
He has that chance in just a few days from now as the TOUR moves to its flagship PLAYERS Championship. No Englishman has ever won the PLAYERS at TPC Sawgrass. Hatton was asked if he could be the guy. After all no Englishman had won the Arnold Palmer Invitational prior either. But his answer once again conjured up thoughts of Gilmore and his laid back ways.
“Time will tell. It's hard to kind of think about next week at the moment with the sort of potential celebrations we have got later today. I don't think I'll be in any fit state at least until Wednesday,” Hatton smiled.
Yep … "Happy" Hatton indeed.