Scottie Scheffler returned to world No 1 with a five-shot victory at The Players; Tyrrell Hatton birdied seven of his last nine holes to equal the back-nine course record at TPC Sawgrass and jump into second spot
By Ali Stafford at TPC Sawgrass
Last Updated: 12/03/23 11:50pm
Tyrrell Hatton admitted that even he was surprised by the finish that parachuted him to an impressive runner-up finish at The Players.
Hatton went into the final round nine strokes off the pace and was outside the top-30 when a bogey at the par-five ninth saw him turn in 36 on Sunday, only to surge up the leaderboard with an extraordinary back nine at TPC Sawgrass.
The Englishman followed a 20-foot birdie at the 10th by converting from six feet at the driveable 12th, with Hatton responding to a missed chance from 10 feet at the next by birdieing each of the final five holes to equal the lowest back-nine total in tournament history.
Hatton’s back-nine 29 saw him set the clubhouse target at 12 under, which was enough for second spot as Scottie Scheffler closed out a commanding five-shot win to secure a return to world No 1.
When asked whether he envisaged such a strong end to the PGA Tour’s flagship event, Hatton told reporters: No, especially with how I was hitting it off the tee on the front nine! Yeah, just pretty mad two and a half hours in the end, I guess, from standing on the 10th tee.
“Really happy with how it’s played out. Yeah, good day’s work. If you had said that you would finish second in the tournament and you don’t have to play the back nine, I think you would take that!
Hatton’s strong result follows a top-six finish at the WM Phoenix Open in February and a share of fourth place at the Arnold Palmer Invitational, with the 31-year-old expected to move inside the top 30 in the FedExCup standings.
“I made a comment at the start of this week that after being in the tournament at Bay Hill for as long as I was on Sunday, to only end up with 110 [FedExCup] points was disappointing,” Hatton added.
“Every year we’re all trying to earn as many points as we can. This year’s no different. It might be sixth counting FedEx event of the season, so I’m playing catch-up to a lot of guys that have played quite a bit of golf already.
“Obviously some of the European lads are in the same boat where we play DP World stuff at the back end of the calendar year and we miss some events over in the States. So, yeah, I’m just out here trying to earn as many points as I can and try and set myself up nicely for next year.”
Scheffler took a two-shot lead into the final day and never relinquished top during a dominant victory, with five birdies and two bogeys during a three-under 69 securing a sixth PGA Tour title in the space of 13 months.
“He [Scheffler] is very impressive,” Hatton said. “Incredibly consistent. He’s had an amazing stretch of golf. Played with him last Sunday and it was clear like he didn’t have his best that day, but he still hung around and had a chance there right at the end.
“It’s a pretty tough thing to do to be up there when you don’t have your best golf and still give yourself a chance to win. So, yeah, it’s very impressive what he’s doing.”