Monday 22 October 2018

Dunne extends superb run as hotshot Hatton doubles up

Ireland's Paul Dunne
Ireland's Paul Dunne
Tyrrell Hatton celebrates with caddie Johnathan Bell after the final round of The Italian Open at Golf Club Milano. Photo: Getty Images

James Corrigan

Paul Dunne continued his excellent run of form with a fourth successive top-30 finish on the European Tour at the Italian Open yesterday.

The Greystones golfer didn't hit the heights of his maiden Tour win at the British Masters two weeks ago, or his seventh-place finish at the Alfred Dunhill Links last week, but he signed for a two-under 69 yesterday to finish 13-under for the tournament and in a tie for 26th.

The 24-year-old started his round off with a birdie on the par-five first before making nine successive pars.

A bogey followed on the 11th but he rallied with successive birdies on 14 and 15 before finishing up with three pars on the spin.

Graeme McDowell was the only other Irishman to make the cut but he finished well down the field in 65th, his three-under total coming after rounds of 71 and 72 over the weekend and leaving 18 shots behind winner Tyrrell Hatton.

Hatton is not the only Englishman saying this year: "Summer, what summer?"

Yet unlike the rest of his countryfolk, his exhortation is all about his incredible transformation in form and not the weather.

If someone had told Hatton five weeks ago that he was about to embark on a four-tournament run which would bring two titles, a third and an eighth and witness him picking up more than £1.4 million (€1.58m) in successive Sundays then he would likely have suggested they seek professional help.

At that stage, Hatton had just sacked his caddie after six missed cuts in seven events during a June, July and August which, in terms of his golf, could be judged bleak by Arctic standards.

But with his best friend Jonathan Bell on the bag, and a determination to go back to basics and enjoy golf again, Hatton has performed one of the most courageous of turnarounds.

If anything, this win in the Italian Open - which was earned with a brilliant, grandstand 15-footer on the 18th - was even more impressive than his defence at last week's Dunhill Championship.

While that St Andrews glory owed everything to his ball-striking mastery in skipping the field, this success at Monza was all to do with his heart and his competitive spirit.

Advice

As well as some great advice from Bell, Hatton was four behind the Thai Kiradeck Aphibarnrat when he made the turn.

"I was fighting myself, trying to stay patient, and you know my caddie kept saying, 'good things will come, good things will come'," Hatton said. "I found it hard to believe. In the end, I guess I got my reward."

Didn't he just. Hatton made four birdies in a row from the 12th and having levelled with Aphibarnrat and Ross Fisher on 20-under, stepped on to the 18th tee needing a birdie three for the win.

A fine approach gave him the chance, but he was still odds against, until he raised in triumph as the putt fell.

His 21-under total meant he was 45-under for the last eight rounds and when you put an £880,000 (€990,000) winning cheque into the mix, not to mention a return to the world's top 20, it was easy to see why he was celebrating.

"It was an amazing feeling. To win back-to-back is incredible. It was my birthday as well yesterday so you could say this was well timed."

For his part, Bell has a huge decision to make. He still harbours his own ambitions to make it as a professional. Well, in the four events, Bell will have cleared more than £160,000 (€180,000). If Hatton wants him to do the job permanently, then can Bell afford to say no?

He would also probably be turning down a chance to caddie in the Ryder Cup, as Hatton is now a long way clear in the points table.

Irish Independent

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