A birdie putt on the last hole lifted Tyrrell Hatton to his second win in as many weeks at the Italian Open
From going back-to-back for a title defense at last week’s Alfred Dunhill Links Championship to winning for the second time in as many weeks now at the Italian Open, it’s Tyrrell Hatton’s world and we’re all just living in it.
Several names were in prime position to claim the Italian Open title this week at Golf Club Milano, but a clutch birdie putt on the 18th gave the title to Hatton, who will ascend inside the world top 20 and the Race to Dubai top 10.
“It was a battle with myself today, to be honest,” Hatton said in his post-round interview provided by the European Tour. “I had a fairly slow front nine. I was fighting so hard to stay patient. JB, my caddy, was saying ‘It’ll come, it’ll come.’ It did in the end and I’m just over the moon, I don’t really know what to say; I can’t believe that I’ve won again.”
Hatton had a pedestrian one-under 35 front nine on a beautiful day for golf where low scores were abundant. He kept his card bogey free as he surged on the back nine, which was deemed the easiest nine in relation to par on the European Tour all season with an average just a shade over 33 on the par 35.
The Englishman made four birdies in a row on Nos. 12-16 and rolled in about a 20 footer on the 18th to avoid a playoff with runners-up Kiradech Aphibarnrat and Ross Fisher. How’s that for a birthday weekend? Hatton turned 26 on Saturday.
Hatton was splendid all week, carding four rounds in the 60s and finished his final 33 holes without a blemish.
After a remarkable 2016 season, Hatton hit a bit of a summer swoon. From the Masters in April to the Open Championship in July, he missed six of nine cuts and failed to place higher than T41.
His father and coach, Jeff, played a big part in Tyrrell’s turnaround.
"“It’s amazing having dad as my coach. He’s worked hard with me over the summer when we had a really bad run,” Hatton said in the aforementioned interview. “People’s opinions sort of didn’t really help us. We just went back to doing what we did best and came out on the other side. Tough back-to-back wins is amazing.”"
It’s good to see the fun-loving Englishman back in fine form. He’s now placed in the top-10 in four straight starts and is hurtling toward qualifying for his first European Ryder Cup team in 2018.
Best of the rest
Fisher posted the clubhouse lead at 20-under all the way back from the sixth-to-last pairing. Despite a closing 63, he’ll regret a birdie putt that rolled by on the last that would have cranked up the pressure on Hatton and the other contenders.
The Englishman has got to be wondering what in the world he has to do to beat Hatton. Fisher was runner-up for both of Hatton’s Alfred Dunhill Links wins and now this week. Fisher played those three events in a combined 60-under. In 2017, Fisher has two third-place finishes and two runners up but no wins. Keep chugging along, Ross.
Aphibarnrat was in the catbird seat entering the final few holes. He was the first player to reach 21-under after a birdie on the 14th. He looked in control until an errant approach on the par-4 16th put him in the rough. Short sided, Aphibarnrat stubbed his chip into the sand and could not get up and down to settle for a double bogey. Give the Thai credit for a bounceback birdie on No. 17, but it ultimately wasn’t enough.
Matt Wallace finished alone in fourth place. The Englishman had a wild back nine to wind up at 19-under. The 54-hole leader by two went out in two-under and was strolling along until making a bogey on the easiest hole of the week, the par-5 14th.
Wallace walked off the 14th green arms waving in frustration. Three holes later they were upright again, this time with excitement from arguably the shot of the week to hole out for an improbably birdie from the rough on No. 17.
Before playing partner Hatton hit the winning putt, Wallace’s birdie try from the sand failed to have a shot at a playoff. This was Wallace’s highest European Tour finish of his career.
Aussie Marcus Fraser had the best front nine of all the contenders with a six-under 30, but his putter betrayed him on the easier inward stretch. Despite coming in at even par, Fraser was still in the mix until a bogey at the 15th all but ended his chances. He took solo fifth for his best European Tour finish of the year and his nine-under 62 on Friday was the low round of the tournament.
If you wanted to be in contention this week, you couldn’t afford a poor round. No one in the top five had a round in the 70s (par 71) and none in the top 20 (!) had a round over par all week.
Crowd favorite and native son Francesco Molinari did well in his title defense at Golf Club Milano. The 34-year-old Turin native entered Sunday two strokes back and tied for sixth at 17-under.
Race to Dubai standings leader Tommy Fleetwood bounced back from a 71 on Thursday to tie for sixth. He carded a 63 on Saturday and was bogey-free for a Sunday 67.
George Coetzee is a workhorse. In his sixth start in as many weeks, the South African tied for sixth to make his fifth cut in a row, four of which have been in the top 15.
Miguel Ángel Jiménez, 53, eschewed this week’s SAS Championship on the PGA Tour Champions to make his fifth European Tour of 2017. The Spaniard made the right call. He turned back the clock to tie for 11th and made eight birdies on Sunday.
The moment of the week might have come from Saturday’s pairing of Sergio García and 21-year-old Austin Connelly. The two reunited after snapping a photo together 18 years ago, which was supplied by Connelly’s mother this week.
Other notable finishes: T15. Matthew Fitzpatrick and Jon Rahm (-15), T26. Alexander Lévy and Paul Dunne (-13), T30. Sergio García (-12), T45. Bernd Wiesberger (-8), T50. Luke Donald (-7), T58. Lee Westwood and 22-year-old Italian amateur Lorenzo Scalise (-5), 65. Graeme McDowell (-3), MC. Andrew Johnston (-3), Shane Lowry (-2), Edoardo Molinari (-2), Martin Kaymer (-2), Matteo Manassero (E), Pádraig Harrington (E), Danny Willett (+2).
Top 10 leaderboard
1. Tyrrell Hatton (-21)
T2. Ross Fisher and Kiradech Aphibarnrat (-20)
4. Matt Wallace (-19)
5. Marcus Fraser (-18)
T6. David Horsey, Tommy Fleetwood, Francesco Molinari and George Coetzee (-17)
10. Nino Bertasio (-16)