Different Strokes: Hatton well on the way to Ryder Cup already
Meanwhile, Gavin Moynihan closes in on European Tour, by the numbers and more
Tyrrell Hatton of England plays a shot on the 18th hole during the final round of The Italian Open at Golf Club Milano in Monza, Italy. Photo: Stuart Franklin/Getty Images
You’d have got some odds on suggesting that Tyrell Hatton’s name would be the first one pencilled in by Europe’s captain Thomas Bjorn in the quest to reclaim the Ryder Cup trophy in Paris next year.
But just seven weeks into the qualifying campaign, the Englishman is virtually assured of his spot: that’s what back-to-back wins on the European Tour, and especially when a megabucks Rolex tournament is included, will do for you.
Although there has been a change in the qualifying process for the 2018 match (with tournaments from next May’s BMW PGA championship at Wentworth weighted so that points won from that point on will be multiplied by 1.5), Hatton’s haul would seem to have him locked-in for a place.
With almost a year of qualifying still to go, Hatton’s accumulated total so far – 1,894,366 – is twice what Ross Fisher in second has managed. Factor in the points that are guaranteed in the no-cut WGCs down the road (starting with next week’s HSBC Champions tournament in Shanghai) and it is plain to see that Hatton has already completed the hard part of qualifying.
In the final qualifying for the 2016 match for Valhalla, Rory McIlroy topped the points list with just over four million while the fourth player to make the team off that list was Chris Woods (2,593,023). Hatton, just a matter of weeks into the campaign, is already within touching distance of that.
When Bjorn announced changes to the qualifying back in January (increasing the number of wild card picks from the three that Darren Clarke had in 2016 to four), it was this very idea that an unlikely lad – even though Hatton is very much there on merit – could amass points early in the campaign that prompted extending the captain’s picks to four as a safety net to bring in an experienced player.
In fairness to Hatton, his back-to-back wins on the European Tour in claiming the Dunhill Links and Italian Open in successive weeks is reflected not just on the Ryder Cup points list but also in the world rankings. After the British Masters, Hatton was ranked 29th in the world but has now jumped to 17th and on an upward trajectory towards beating the career-high 14th position he occupied after the Arnold Palmer Invitational earlier this season.
Moynihan closing in on European Tour
Heading into the final stretch of events on the Challenge Tour, Gavin Moynihan has moved into position to pounce in his quest to secure full playing rights on the PGA European Tour next season.
The Dubliner’s sixth-place finish in the Hainan Open enabled him to jump up to 23rd in the latest Challenge Tour order of merit, from which the leading 15 players will earn full tour cards for the 2018 season: tellingly, Moynihan is only €8,157 behind the man currently in 15th place, Argentina’s Estanislao Goya. So, all to play for really.
Moynihan is the sole Irishman in the field at this week’s Foshan Open in China, which is the third last event of the season: following its two-week odyssey in China, the Challenge Tour moves on to the Middle East for the Ras Al Khaimah Challenge in Dubai and finally the NBO Classic in Oman, the culmination of the Race to Oman.
In the bag
Pat Perez, (winner of the CIMB Classic on the PGA Tour)
Ball: Titleist ProV1
Driver: TaylorMade M2 2017 (9.5 degrees)
3-wood: PXG 0317 (15 degrees)
Hybrid: PXG 0317X (19 degrees)
Irons (3-4): PXG0311XF; (5-PW): PXG0311
Wedges: PXG0311T (53 degrees and 60 degrees)
Putter: PXG Gumboat
By the numbers
2/9: Leona Maguire’s win in the prestigious Tar Heel Invitational tournament was the Cavan golfer’s second collegiate win of the season and the ninth of her career with Duke University. The world number one ranked amateur is in the final year of her university studies and plans to turn professional next May.
Word of mouth
“I’m not going to change. I’m still not going to work out, and I will still eat a bad diet” – Pat Perez ain’t changing the habits of a lifetime, and won’t be in the queue to the gym.
“He kept reminding me that being nervous was quite natural, that I needed to accept those nerves. I kept reminding myself of that” – 22-year-old South Korean Jin Young Ko on the on-course pep-talk from her veteran caddie Dean Herden as she overcame nerves in front of record crowds to win the KEB Hana Bank championship for her breakthrough LPGA Tour win.
“If the schools and colleges in Ireland are shut because of this hurricane then they should be shut during Irish Am and The West. #8clubwind” – Gavin Moynihan knows his yardages.
“What an incredible feeling! So happy win again. Thank you to everyone for all the messages!! #BackToBack #ItalianOpen #RolexSeries” – Tyrrell Hatton on having that winning feeling all over again.
“Making progress” – two words from Tiger Woods to accompany a nine second video of him hitting a driver, providing an inkling of hope for the 14-time Major champion’s bid to return to tour life.
Know the rules
Q: A player’s tee shot travels about 175 yards and, while still in motion, is deflected out of bounds by a golf course maintenance vehicle. The player, claiming the vehicle should not have been there, dropped a ball near the spot where the vehicle deflected the original ball, completed play of the hole and stated that he had incurred no penalty. Was the player correct?
A: No. A maintenance vehicle is an outside agency. The original ball would have been played as it lay, without penalty, if it had been in bounds (Rule 19-1). Since the ball was out of bounds, the player was obliged to proceed under Rule 27-1. The player, in dropping a ball near where the original ball was deflected and playing it, played from a wrong place: in match play, he incurred a penalty of loss of hole (Rule 20-7b); in stroke play, he incurred the stroke-and-distance penalty prescribed by Rule 27-1 and an additional penalty of two strokes for a breach of that rule. Since the breach was a serious one, he was subject to disqualification unless he corrected the error (Rule 20-7c).