Tyrell Hatton maintained his overnight lead to win at the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship, proving that he is the next big name in British golf with a long over-due maiden European tour win. Hatton cruised through his round and his path to victory was pretty much a procession on the final day. Hatton added a final round 66 to his 62 yesterday, finishing four shots in front of England’s Ross Fisher and South African Richard Sterne. Hatton made a fast start with three birdies in the first five holes, creating a comfortable lead at the top of the leader board. He hardly put a foot wrong for the remainder of the round, making just the sole bogey at the tough 17th hole.
Hatton showed his elation afterwards stating: “It feels amazing. I’ve wanted this moment since I was a six-year-old. It’s a dream come true and to do it here at the Home of Golf is fantastic. I’m just happy I got over the line.’’ Hatton wins a total sum of US$800,000 and moves up to fourth in the Race to Dubai. Hatton clearly had one eye on the world rankings coming into the tournament. Hatton described how: ‘’one of my goals was to get inside the top 50 in the world. I think I was 53rd coming into this week, and I am looking forward to Monday morning, when the world rankings come out and see what position I am.” Hatton has now officially risen to 33rd in the world, meaning that he will have qualified for this year’s US Masters at Augusta.
Ross Fisher finished in second place after a successful four days of links golf. Fisher had a tough task to close the five-shot gap on Hatton on the final day but credited his fellow country man stating: ‘Tyrrell was just too good today. In search of his first win, final group at the Home of Golf at St Andrews, he played flawlessly. He hit I would say one bad shot on 17 which cost him a five, but he was just too good today. All credit to Tyrrell on a great first win’.
The winners of the team competition were Current Masters champion Danny Willett and Jonathon Smart. Smart is Willett’s usual caddy on the tour and was delighted for the opportunity to play in such an event. Smart claimed; ‘’I won’t be getting any percentage of the winnings – he’s already done more than enough for me this week by giving me this treat of playing in such a great event as his amateur partner. It’s been an unbelievable experience.” A touching quote that highlights the partnership these two share on and off the course. Smart had seemingly carried Willett all week though, with the Englishman failing to make the cut in the professional tournament. Playing in matching outfits for the day, the pair were partnered with the overnight leaders Adrian Meronk and his Swedish amateur partner John Eliasch. The two teams were tied coming their final hole. Smart would go on to hold his nerve and birdie the last, a triumphant way to win his first ever tournament. Smart joked afterwards that it was a lot easier to tell someone else what to do, than it is to actually to do it yourself!
Shot of the tournament:
It was a tough decision to pick out the shot of the tournament and there were some worthy contenders. Thomas Pieters’ 407 yard drive onto a par 4 proved the sheer class of the Ryder Cup star. I was also lucky enough to witness Martin Kaymer’s putt from across the face of the difficult 13th Green. Ross Fisher’s second shot into the 16th at the old course on Friday, tearing an iron through the wind to within an inch of the hole was also a serious contender. However, the shot of the tournament in my mind was by Richard Sterne. Sterne had placed his second shot significantly short of the challenging 17th hole with a daunting pitch in front of him. The pin was at the back of the green, enticing the players into the Road Hole bunker. Sterne showed his mastery of links golf, bumping the ball under the win, onto the green and into the hole, much to the excitement of the on looking crowd. Sterne threw his hands in the air clearly elated at the shot, despite knowing that his chances of winning the tournament had all but slipped away. A touch of pure quality ended a brilliant week for the South African.
Overall, the Dunhill was an overwhelming success and it was great to see so many people watching the golf throughout the week. The tournament’s format provided entertainment for everyone, even for those without prior interest in the sport. The courses were spectacular as ever and highlighted exactly why links golf is truly something to celebrate here in Scotland. Hopefully, the tournament has inspired more people into the game. There is really no place better to learn than at the Home of Golf here in St Andrews!