Hatton Keeps His Cool to Land Jackpot in Turkey
Tyrrell Hatton may not be everybody’s cup of tea, but nobody can deny his competitive spirit and after throwing his toys out of the pram on more than one occasion during the final round, he won the Turkish Airlines Open in a thrilling six-man playoff. Having started the day three behind leader Matthias Schwab, the Englishman birdied the final hole for a round of 67, which was good enough to draw him level with French pair Benjamin Hebert and Victor Perez, American Kurt Kitayama, Schwab and South African Erik van Rooyen.
He had to chip-in to keep his hopes alive on the first trip back up the last but a par was enough to overcome Schwab at the fourth time of asking and hand Hatton his fourth European Tour victory. He will feel that he should have won it in regulation play and became increasingly frustrated as birdie putts failed to drop, but he somehow managed to keep his temper under control to eventually finish on top on a day that finished under floodlights.
There had only been two other six man playoffs in European Tour history, with Scot Stephen McAllister winning the 1990 Vinho Verde Atlantic Open and England's Mark Foster triumphing at the 2003 Dunhill Championship.
In the first threeball back up the last, a poor tee shot ended Van Rooyen's chances, while Kitayama was just over the back in two and got down in two more for a birdie. Hatton's race looked to be run when he found a dreadful lie with his second and was off the green in three but chipped in for a birdie. Schwab had to lay up after finding rough off the tee but played a wonderful third to set up a birdie, with Hebert and Perez both failing to match him after finding the rough themselves.
The next trip up the last produced three pars as Kitayama missed a six-footer for victory and his challenge ended after the next as his par could not match birdies from Hatton and Schwab. Hatton missed a short putt for birdie after laying up on the next but Schwab missed a short one of his own after chipping over the green and the resulting bogey handed Hatton the $2m prize. The win sees Hatton move 30 places up the Race to Dubai to sixth place.
“It’s hard to put into words how I feel,” Hatton said. “It’s been a crazy day. The play-off was mental and I am so happy to win again. I said to my team that if I won again I would definitely try to enjoy it more.” There are times when it is difficult to believe that Hatton does actually enjoy what he does. He lost his temper several times during the final round, but he does seem to have the ability to move on and forget it.
“It’s incredible to get my fourth European Tour win, and it wraps up getting into The Masters next year, which was on my mind,” Hatton said. “I am now looking forward to taking next week off and spending it with friends and family before teeing it up again in Dubai. I will get there a little bit early and hope to have a big finish to my year."
Schwab, from Austria, will be especially disappointed not to have secured his first European Tour victory but he had the consolation of securing his 10th top-10 finish of the season. "It was a close call," he said. "I had some good looks and good chances coming down the stretch in regular play and didn't take advantage of them. In the playoff, it is what it is."
He reached the turn in 34 to move to 19 under par. But playing partners Hatton and Benjamin Hebert both turned in 32 to sit at 18 under alongside South African Erik van Rooyen, who picked up five shots in 10 holes.
Lee Westwood was then at 17 under with seven to play, a shot clear of Ross Fisher, Robert MacIntyre and Shubhankar Sharma. Schwab's three shot overnight advantage was cut to two as a host of his challengers birdied the opening hole, but he emulated them. He missed good chances on the second and third and Hatton cut the lead when he holed from 10 feet at the second but bogeyed the next after a poor tee shot.
Schwab birdied the par five fourth as he got up and down, with Hebert two putting from the fringe to add to his birdie from 15 feet at the second. But the lead stayed at two as Hatton put a remarkable second to four feet for an eagle to move to 18 under. The lead was cut to one as Schwab found sand off the tee at the par three fifth and Van Rooyen found himself just two off the lead. Van Royen sandwiched a birdie on the second with gains on the two par fives and while he gave a shot back on the next, approaches to inside six feet at the sixth and seventh moved him to 17 under.
Schwab missed two more good birdie chances at the sixth and seventh but Hatton found sand off the tee at the seventh to drop a shot and the lead was back to two. Hebert and Hatton both birdied the par-three eighth and were one behind, and were joined by Van Rooyen who holed a 12 footer on the 10th. Lee Westwood, preparing for the defence of his Nedbank Challenge title, birdied the first, fourth, seventh, 10th and 11th to put himself into the mix, two behind the lead, but he eventually ran out of steam.
Class act mate, it will be your time soon!! ???????????? pic.twitter.com/7NtKdapZRJ— Tyrrell Hatton (@TyrrellHatton) November 10, 2019
The final group struggled on the back nine, with Schwab and Hebert both making birdies at the 13th and Hatton making a birdie from 16 feet on the last, opening the door for Kitayama, Perez and Van Rooyen. Kitayama, birdied the first, second and seventh, chipped in at the eighth and then bogeyed the ninth before making the most of the 11th and 13th. A 15-footer on the 16th was followed by a birdie on the next and when the 26-year-old got up and down on the par five last, he shared the lead.
Perez sandwiched a gain on the ninth with birdies on the par five fourth and 11th before making a hat-trick of gains from the 14th and a two putt birdie on the last. Van Rooyen had birdied the tenth but gave the shot back on the next after a poor tee shot before making a gain on the 14th. He was still two back stood on the last tee but he found the fringe in two and rolled home his eagle putt to make it a four way tie at the top. Schwab could only par the last, while Hatton needed two putts for a birdie and Hebert also made a gain after being forced to lay up to set up the six man battle.
India's Shubhankar Sharma carded a 64 to finish at 18 under alongside Scot Robert MacIntyre, one clear of Frenchman Romain Langasque and two ahead of England's Ross Fisher and Lee Westwood, Dane Joachim B Hansen, Scotland's Scott Jamieson, Italy's Guido Migliozzi and American Patrick Reed.
It was a tournament that had everything. Englishman Eddie Pepperell was disqualified during the third round when he put five balls in the water at the 13th, realised he had run out of balls, shook the hands of his playing partners and walked in.
Pepperell, 28, who started on the 10th tee, hit his approach to the fourth hole into the water around the green. He had several more attempts, losing "four or five balls" according to Martin Kaymer, who said the incident was like a scene from the film Tin Cup. "I have never seen anything like that before,” Kaymer said. "I only watched it on television, in Tin Cup. This is the first time I have seen it live."
Pepperell was officially disqualified for failing to complete the hole and could face punishment from the European Tour.
Kaymer, who was playing alongside Pepperell with George Coetzee, added: "Eddie hit his shots to the green then came over to tell us he had run out of balls. Then he walked off. I thought he lost four or five. We are about 80% sure it was five, 20% four. He did not ask if he could borrow one from me or George. It did not look like he wanted to play. He did not putt with his putter on the third hole; he putted with a wedge. So there was a lot happening."
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