Tyrrell Hatton slammed the closing hole at Yas Links as “one of the worst par 5s I’ve seen in my life”, after his hopes of a successful title defence at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship ended in grisly fashion.
Hatton took a nine at the 18th – a day after a double bogey seven at the same hole – and instead of snapping at the heels of the leaders, he finds himself down among the also-rans.
If Hatton had repeated his first round birdie at the 646-yard 18th, he would have carded a 66, and at seven-under par, he would have been only four shots behind Scott Jamieson, whose 68 kept him one clear of Shane Lowry and Thomas Pieters, which would have boosted his chances of completing a famous wire-to-wire victory.
Hatton’s hopes of repeating the thrilling final round charge that brought him victory last year were very much alive when he teed it up at the last.
Instead, he hacked his way down the 18th in cringeworthy fashion and, after holing a three-footer to end his misery, he raised his putter chest high and aimed it at the scoreboard like a gun. It was his best-looking shot in the past 15 minutes!
It took the Ryder Cup star almost 30 minutes before he had cooled down enough to talk about that quadruple bogey. He said: “That must be one of the worst par fives I’ve ever seen in my life – and over the last two days, I’ve clearly played it about as well as it was designed.
“It’s just really frustrating. I thought I played pretty good in those gale-force winds on day two, and I’m still not sure how I managed to shoot 77. I really wanted to go out this time, and make amends, recapture the touch of razzle-dazzle form of my first round 66.
“And I played so good. I’m six under for 13 holes, I’ve got all the shots back and more, and then after a bogey we get to the 18th. What’s wrong with it? Where do you start? It shouldn’t have a bunker in the middle of the fairway and it shouldn’t be over 600 yards from a forward tee.
“If you hit a good drive as a pro you should have at least a chance to go for the green in two, otherwise the hole becomes a par 3, and that’s if you play it well. Hardly anyone will get there in two with the wind even slightly against you.
“As for me, I hit my tee shot straight down the middle into that ridiculous bunker, and thought my best route out of there was to steer my second over to the 10th fairway, although that still left me nearly 220 yards to the pin for my third.
“I hit a 3-iron into the water behind the green, and had to drop my ball into the vegetation between the hazard and the greenside bunker – where it was basically unplayable, just like the day before, when I chopped it into the bunker. Someone could easily hurt their wrist playing from that stuff.
“I did the same thing this time, chunked it into the bunker, and left it in the sand with my next shot. Then I splashed out and two-putted. I’d lost count of how many I’d taken by then.
“I honestly can’t remember the last time I got a nine – I certainly haven’t had one that I can recall as a pro. I was probably about 14 the last time it happened.”
It was a slightly different day for former Champion Golfer of the Year, Shane Lowry, who currently sits just one shot back of leader, Scott Jamieson. However, Lowry too had a final hole adventure of his own when a breakdown of communication between him and his caddie, Bo Martin, almost brought disaster.
Martin chose one of the large HSBC logos on the stands behind the 18th to give his player a line for his lay-up second shot, but Lowry aimed at the wrong sign, and almost dumped his ball into the water.
He shouted angrily at his bag man as his ball sailed left of the green, and both men started shooting at each other, while pointing at different ends of the stand.
Luckily, the ball stayed dry, and Lowry escaped with a par for the bogey-free 67 that kept him in contention for a second Abu Dhabi triumph, after winning the event in 2019.
The Irish ace saw the funny side of it, saying: “Myself and Bo were talking about aiming at the HSBC sign but his one was 30 yards right of the one I was looking at. Yeah, new course.
“I thought I hit a perfect shot, and I couldn’t believe it came down where it did. It was a bad mistake to make because we shouldn’t be doing it in that situation. I got very lucky and fortunately in the end I made a good two-putt afterwards.
“It could have been a different story. I’m not sure I’d be standing here. I might be sitting in the locker room sulking right now. I’m happy with the way I’ve played overall. I’m really happy with the way the week is going and I’m looking forward to tomorrow.”
Credit: Source link