BUCKINGHAMSHIRE’S Tyrrell Hatton survived a six-man play-off under floodlights at the Turkish Airlines Open to win the $2million Rolex Series winner’s cheque.
The 28-year-old jumped to the top of the qualifying list to play in next year’s Ryder Cup.
The former B.B.&O. amateur had to chip-in to keep his hopes alive on the first trip back up the last before finally holding his nerve on the 18th green as Austrian Schwab missed a short putt to extend the play-off to the 23rd hole.
A beaming Hatton, who had veteran looper Mick Donaghy on the bag, said: “It’s so surreal. I mean, I actually can’t believe that I’ve won.
Talking about the shot on the 19th after his approach had come back down the slope, leaving him facing elimination, Hatton revealed: “Mick said, ‘Yeah, chip it in.’
“I was kind of getting in my own way with moaning about the little bit of mud on the ball – from the fairway – and obviously it was just left in a dead spot.
“I just went back to when I was a kid at Harleyford – just chipping away, and you’d hole three in a row. That really focused me, and it came out perfect.
“Amazing that it went in and just so thankful that I’ve gone on to win the title.
“It’s been quite a difficult year in terms of things happening off-course, and you know, the last month, I feel like I really found my game again.
“I said to a few people on my team that if I was lucky enough to win again, then I would definitely savour the moment, because I think it’s quite easy to take it for granted.
“You know, sport’s great when it’s going well. But when it’s not going well, it kind of hits home, so I’m absolutely thrilled,” added Hatton, who is coached by his dad Jeff.
Hatton had long-time friend Jonathan Bell, Kent’s former England international on the bag when he won the 2017 Italian Open – his first Rolex Series victory – the week after the pair successfully defended Hatton’s Dunhill title at St Andrews.
Despite playing in the record Ryder Cup victory against America at Le Paris National just over a year ago, Hatton split with Bell last year before employing Mark “Punk” Crane at the 2018 US Open, at Shinnecock Hills.
Hatton, who has been heavily criticised by TV commentators and on social media, for his frequent temper tantrums out on the course, teamed up with Donaghy earlier this year.
Hatton, who has been nursing a wrist injury which will require surgery at the end of this season, said: “Obviously amazing to have Mick on the bag and he’s done a great job this week. I’m just so happy.
“You don’t think about the money, at all. It’s all pride. And yeah, obviously it’s a bonus at the end of it after a great week, and I’m just so happy, I don’t know what else to say.”
Hatton entered the final round in glorious sunshine three shots off the lead at The Montgomerie Maxx Royal.
But the Harleyford GC member ended it as the last-man standing under the artificial lights after one of the most dramatic days on the 2019 Race to Dubai.
A birdie on the 72nd hole sealed a closing 67 and a place in the record-equalling play-off alongside French duo Benjamin Hebert and Victor Perez, American Kurt Kitayama, Austrian Matthias Schwab and South African Erik van Rooyen.
Hatton had to chip-in to keep his hopes alive on the first trip back up the last as Hebert, Perez and van Rooyen were eliminated on the first extra hole.
Kitayama stayed in the hunt before he was eliminated on the third extra hole, leaving Hatton and Schwab to fight it out under the floodlights for the £1.56million first prize.
Hatton found trouble with his drive and was forced to lay-up, but par was enough for him to secure his fourth European Tour title.P
Schwab, who has been a model of consisteny in his search for a maiden win, with six top fives and four top 10s, had missed a putt to win in regulation.
“It was a close call,” said Schwab. “I had some good looks and good chances coming down the stretch in regular play and didn’t take advantage of them.
“In a play-off, it is what it is,” added the Austrian, who made an excellent putt from the edge of the green as Kitayama – going for his third win of the season – was eliminated.
“It’s still a second-place finish, which is obviously not too bad, but yeah, at the moment, it’s not too great,” said Schwab.
Kitayama’s disappointment was probably tempered by those two wins in the early part of the season after shooting a joint best-of-the-day 64 to move nine places up the leaderboard to gatecrash the play-off.
“It was pretty fun,” said Kitayama. “A little disappointed, but gave myself a couple chances. It’s too bad.
“To put myself right back in it today and to get myself a win would have been amazing,” added Kitayama.
“I’m pleased how today went. The ending was tough but overall, great learning experience.”
•For the final resutls in the Turkish Airlines Open, click here.