HOUSTON — To hear Tyrrell Hatton tell it — and the PGA Tour microphones are always rolling — he’s erratic, unsettled, and responsible for some of the worst golf shots in the history of the game.
In reality, nothing could be further from the truth. Hatton has been a model of consistency over the last year, playing numerous events on both sides of the Atlantic with equally impressive results.
In just 14 events on the PGA Tour since the start of last season, the 29-year-old Englishman has seven top-10 finishes, including a victory at the Arnold Palmer Invitational. He’s been just as good on the European Tour, winning the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth, a tournament he started attending when he was just six, just last month.
But as consistent as Hatton’s game has been over the last calendar year, his reactions and emotions continue to be wildly unpredictable. Hatton continues to convert fans through his hilarious antics — often skewering himself after a bad shot or making subtle (and sometimes not-so-subtle) gestures during his typically steady rounds.
“I guess it has its positives and negatives. It can be an issue if you start getting a fine, which is never good,” Hatton said with the wry smile that often accompanies him on the course. “But generally like it’s just a reaction. I kind of wear my heart on my sleeve, you know how I’m feeling, so I don’t try and hide that. I don’t see it as being an issue.”
— The European Tour (@EuropeanTour) October 11, 2020
During Thursday’s opening round of the Vivint Houston Open, for example, Hatton pushed a ball on No. 4 (he started on the back), then angrily swung his club and talked his way down the fairway while motioning that he couldn’t get through an opening. After a tough break created a bad lie meaning he couldn’t control his chip, however, he still saved bogey with a testy putt.
Then on No. 7, after a poor tee shot and a flub from the deep rough led to a triple-bogey, Hatton gave the ball a thumbs up as he walked up before tapping in. Not exactly the reaction you’d expect from an emotional player who had just gone from 1-under par and just off the lead to 2 over and perhaps fighting to make the cut.
He later finished with a 71 after sinking an 11-foot par putt on the day’s final hole. Not spectacular, by any means, but certainly within striking distance on a course that didn’t yield many birdies in its return to the PGA Tour after 57 years.
Hatton is many things — sarcastic and self-deprecating come to mind — but at his golfing core, he’s a tremendous ball-striker who seems to maintain his focus, even in the face of adverse conditions.
— Skratch (@Skratch) October 11, 2020
And yes, he’s emotional, but he respects his playing partners in the process. That respect seems to be mutual, as evidenced by the reciprocal reactions he gets from fellow players. For example, Hatton, Adam Scott and Dustin Johnson shared numerous lighthearted moments during Thursday’s round at Memorial Park Golf Course, even as the action got heated.
“It’s only an issue if I’m affecting my playing partners from it. Obviously, I would feel really bad about that. It’s definitely not my intention, I’m just — I’m obviously kind of venting,” Hatton said. “I managed to, I guess, produce some funny moments on the golf course so far with some of my reactions.
“You know, I’m just being me. I’m just kind of, it’s a reaction without thinking and sometimes that can be bad, so you have to give me a little bit of slack sometimes.”
— The European Tour (@EuropeanTour) October 9, 2020
Whatever the method to his madness, it’s working. Hatton came into this week’s event in Houston as the field’s second-highest ranked golfer, behind only World No. 1 Dustin Johnson. He sits at No. 10 in the Official World Golf Ranking and has jumped to No. 12 in the Golfweek/Sagarin rankings.
Although he’s yet to win a major, Hatton has fared well in the three not played in Augusta, recording a top 10 in each. But his best finish at the Masters was 44th, something he hopes to improve on next week. That’s one of the reasons he’s here in Houston.
When asked about what he can do to prepare for Augusta National, Hatton responded with an answer that only he would.
“It’s just golf, isn’t it? We’re trying our best every week, it’s just some weeks work out better than others. I like the golf course, it’s just you try your best and it, like, doesn’t happen,” he said. “Normally, putting is generally a strength of my game and I have never really had a good putting week at the Masters. I remember last year my short game was horrible. So they’re very important things that week.
“You are going to miss greens, it’s difficult to get up and down especially with the grass kind of growing into you, so yeah, you need to be pretty on it on those points and just previously I’ve struggled there.”