Hatton the Last Man Standing After Gruelling Week at Bay Hill

By: | Mon 09 Mar 2020 | Comments


Tyrrell Hatton became the first Englishman to win the Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill at the end of a tournament that sorted out the men from boys and left many in the field pulling their hair out. Finally, we had a golf course that featured proper rough and put a premium on pars, and the world’s finest golfers struggled to cope, none more so than Rory McIlroy.

The world number one finished in fifth place after a final round of 76. He missed too many fairways and also found too many bunkers, meaning that he was always battling to save par rather than looking for the birdies he required.

Hatton didn’t have things his own way either. He began the final round leading by two shots but had two bogeys in the opening five holes and was reeled in. The 28-year-old also had a double-bogey in his round of 74, which turned out to be good enough to give him a one-shot win over 2017 champion Marc Leishman. In the end, he won because he made fewer mistakes than anybody else.

McIlroy, joint second at the start of the day, had two double bogeys as he rued another string of poor shots, especially from the tee.

"It was such a tough day," said Hatton. "After the double on 11 I thought I'd played my way out of it because I didn't see the scoreboard. That putt at 18 - I have never been so nervous. I won't ever forget this week."

Bay Hill provided a test of the sort that seems to be all too rare these days. There were 44 players under par after Thursday's first round but only four by the end of the tournament. Saturday's scoring average of 75.91 was the highest of any round at Bay Hill since 1983 - with only one player under par - and it was the first non-major not to have a round in the 60s since 2014.

The conditions were tough for the final round, with swirling winds and firm putting surfaces.

Hatton dropped a shot on his opening hole after finding a fairway bunker. Leishman, two shots back alongside 2018 winner McIlroy overnight, saw his challenge falter after a double bogey at the third after he found water with his drive.

McIlroy holed a fine putt from the edge of the green to drop only one shot at the fifth but then thinned one out of a fairway bunker onto the rocks at the next and ran up a double bogey to drop two shots off the lead.

A drive out of bounds led to another double bogey at the ninth and dropped him to level par for the tournament, by which time Hatton was ahead again after a superb tee shot to two feet at the 195-yard par three seventh.

Hatton moved two clear of the field with a second successive birdie but after finding the water with his drive at the 11th he careered through the green and made a double bogey to slip back into a tie at the top with Sungjae Im.

“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,” Hatton said. “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. 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.

“But Mick [Donaghy, his caddie]  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.”

Im, winner of the Honda Classic made a double bogey of his own after finding water with his approach at the 13th and Hatton managed to par his way in for a memorable triumph, holing from two feet for the title.

England's Matthew Fitzpatrick produced the only sub-70 round of the entire weekend - with four birdies in the first six holes - and despite a double bogey at the 17th he returned a 69 to finish with a one over total and a share of ninth.

European Tour

Jorge Campillo threw away a two-shot lead before defeating David Drysdale in a playoff to claim the Qatar Masters. The Spaniard was two in front of the field with just two holes to play but a double bogey on the 17th dropped him back to 13 under and left him tied with Drysdale, who was looking for his first European Tour victory in almost 500 attempts.

Campillo found sand off the tee on the first trip back up the last but a 25 foot putt brought a birdie which Drysdale matched from six feet. A 20 footer brought another birdie for the 33-year-old and with Drysdale even closer to the hole than after his previous effort, the duo shared a fist bump before returning to the tee after another pair of birdies.

Both men made routine pars on the third and fourth play-off holes and were given a buggy to make their way down the fairway as the light began to fade in Doha.

Another putt from beyond 20 feet brought Campillo a birdie and when Drysdale missed from similar range, Campillo was a two time winner in his 250th event after five extra trips up the last.

Dane Jeff Winther bogeyed the 16th and 17th to finish one shot out of the play-off alongside Swede Niklas Lemke and Finn Kalle Samooja.

Campillo had to wait 229 events for his first European Tour victory at the Trophée Hassan II but he has now won in consecutive seasons.

"I'm just so proud right now of the way I played in the play-off," he said. "I hardly missed a shot and I was able to make some putts. I hit some good shots coming in in the middle of the round but you have to be patient, you have to try hard. I knew I was going to make some putts. It was a tough win but I'm glad I pulled it off.

“The 18th is a great par four, and a tough hole. David struck some great shots into the hole and I had to make some putts. Three birdies out of six on 18 to win is something to be proud of."

It is difficult not to feel some sympathy for Drysdale. This was his 498th European Tour event without a win and his fourth runner-up finish.

There was a two-shot swing on the very first hole as Winther put his approach to ten feet and Campillo made a bogey. The overnight leader was back in a share of top spot when he took advantage of the par five second from six feet, with Drysdale playing a beautiful bunker shot to save par on the fourth.

The 44-year-old took advantage with a birdie from 10 feet on the next to make it a three-way tie, as Winther missed a golden birdie opportunity from six feet. He would make no mistake on the seventh and after putting another approach close, he was at the top on his own.

Campillo nearly holed his approach at the 10th and when Winther failed to get up and down from the sand on the 12th, Campillo was the solo leader. He led by two after a birdie at the 13th and despite having to play out sideways and dropping a shot on the 16th, he was still two ahead as Winther three putted from just off the green.

Drysdale missed a short putt on the eighth to drop back to 13 under but he put an approach to eight feet on the 14th before bogeying the next as he failed to get up and down.

But he soon found himself in a share of the lead as Campillo went a long way right off the 17th tee and three putted from just off the green for that double bogey.

Winther also three putted from just off the green and Campillo and Drysdale made their closing pars to set up the play-off drama.

Lemke made birdies on the second, fourth, fifth, sixth, eighth, 11th, 13th and 14th to surge up the leaderboard but made two late bogeys in a 65, while Samooja holed long putts on the ninth and 11th in a 69 containing four birdies and two bogeys.

Swede Alexander Björk finished on 11 under, a shot clear of countryman Marcus Kinhult, Italy's Nino Bertasio, South African George Coetzee, Spaniard Pablo Larrazábal and England's Chris Paisley.


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