McIlory blown away as Tyrrell Hatton keeps cool to win at Bay Hill

Rory McIlroy was among those to suffer with the windy conditions and firm greens

Rory McIlroy during the final round of the Arnold Palmer Invitational in Orlando, Florida. Photograph: Getty Images

Rory McIlroy during the final round of the Arnold Palmer Invitational in Orlando, Florida. Photograph: Getty Images

 

Tyrrell Hatton did what had to be done to capture his breakthrough PGA Tour win in the Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill in Orlando: the 28-year-old Englishman, with a reputation as something of a hothead, kept his cool and hung tough to defy the difficult conditions to fire a closing round 74 for four-under-par 284, a shot clear of Australian Marc Leishman.

With the windy conditions and firm greens causing countless difficulties for players, Rory McIlroy - still seeking his first win of the year - was among those to suffer. The world number one started the final round just two shots adrift of 54-hole leader Hatton but any notion of victory was done by the turn, after a front nine that featured two double-bogeys.

McIlroy’s intent to contend for a first win on tour since the WGC HSBC Champions tournament in Shanghai last November came to nothing, as a finishing 76 for a total of level-par 288 enabled him to continue his streak of top-5 finishes but some four shots shy of Hatton.

It didn’t take long for any winning ambitions to dissipate as McIlroy was among those blown away by the tough conditions, suffering two double-bogeys on his front nine: on the Par 5 sixth, his tee-shot leaked right into the rough and his second finished in a fairway bunker, with worse to follow when his third hit the rocky outline in the water hazard by the green. A penalty stroke later, McIlroy then chipped and two-putted for a seven.

Then, on the Par 4 ninth hole, McIlroy’s wild tee-shot saw him forced to take a penalty drop and his third finished some 180 yards from the green in thick rough. His fourth shot plunged into a greenside bunker, and he did well to get up-and-down from the sand trap for a double bogey six.

“I would so much rather play it like this every week , where it’s a battle and you’ve got to work hard and grind, instead of wide-open fairways, no wind and just (shoot) 65 and you move down,” admitted Matt Fitzpatrick after shooting a 69 for 289, one over, that moved him inside the top -10.

But it was his fellow-Englishman Hatton who scooped the €1.5 winner’s cheque. In his four wins on the European Tour - the 2016 and 2017 Dunhill Links, the 2017 Italian Open and the 2019 Turkish Airlines Open - Hatton had scores ranging from 20-under to 24-under but, on this occasion, he was required to show a stubborn streak and fortitude on a course and in conditions that took one victim after another.

When all was done, only four players finished under par with Hatton - who worked his way through the EuroPro Tour and the Challenge Tour to earn a place on the biggest stage - becoming the first Englishman to claim the title.

Hatton wasn’t immune from adversity, suffering a double bogey six on the 11th where he put his tee shot into the water hazard. Far from allowing that to derail him, Hatton kept his composure and - almost Faldo-esque - reeled off seven straight pars to finish and stay in front to close the deal.

Hatton finished a shot clear of Leishman, who was also one of the tournament’s ambassadors, with last week’s winner of the Honda a shot further back in third.

“It is incredible, it was such a tough day. I thought after the double on 11 I had played myself out of it, when I got to the Par 3 13th I found I still had a two shot lead, so thankful to par in. It’s incredible to get my first win at such an iconic venue. It’s amazing to win so soon after coming back from wrist surgery,” said Hatton.

Final scores and totals in the Arnold Palmer Invitational (USA unless stated, par 72):

284 Tyrrell Hatton (Eng) 68 69 73 74

285 Marc Leishman (Aus) 71 69 72 73

286 Sungjae Im (Kor) 70 69 74 73

287 Bryson DeChambeau 73 71 72 71

288 Danny Lee (Nzl) 71 67 75 75, Joel Dahmen 72 72 73 71, Rory McIlroy (Irl) 66 73 73 76, Keith Mitchell 68 75 74 71

289 Sung Kang (Kor) 69 68 78 74, Collin Morikawa 70 71 75 73, Harris English 69 70 74 76, Matthew Fitzpatrick (Eng) 70 75 75 69

290 Charley Hoffman 70 73 74 73, Talor Gooch 67 80 72 71

291 Scottie Scheffler 67 74 75 75, Tom Hoge 70 70 76 75, Patrick Reed 70 70 80 71

292 Jason Kokrak 71 75 72 74, Brendon Todd 68 72 78 74, Christiaan Bezuidenhout (Rsa) 68 72 73 79, Danny Willett (Eng) 71 71 77 73, Dylan Frittelli (Rsa) 71 72 74 75, Rickie Fowler 71 70 77 74

293 Max Homa 72 75 70 76, Matt Wallace (Eng) 69 73 76 75, Xander Schauffele 73 74 72 74, Beau Hossler 73 72 76 72, Adam Long 69 74 78 72, Jimmy Walker 73 69 80 71, Patrick Rodgers 73 70 73 77, Troy Merritt 71 72 75 75

294 Bud Cauley 71 72 75 76, Graeme McDowell (Irl) 68 74 76 76, Zach Johnson 72 73 74 75, Ian Poulter (Eng) 69 77 74 74

295 Kevin Na 70 72 79 74, Harold Varner III 70 74 76 75, Sam Burns 68 72 76 79, Billy Horschel 72 73 77 73, Lanto Griffin 71 73 76 75, Zac Blair 74 70 77 74

296 Steve Stricker 72 74 74 76, Keegan Bradley 73 72 76 75, Viktor Hovland (Nor) 74 73 72 77, Harry Higgs 72 73 76 75, Kyoung-hoon Lee (Kor) 72 73 72 79

297 Brooks Koepka 72 73 81 71, Rory Sabbatini (Svk) 70 74 74 79, Matt Jones (Aus) 75 68 73 81, Scott Harrington 71 70 79 77, Stewart Cink 72 70 75 80

298 Matthew Wolff 73 73 81 71, Xinjun Zhang (Chn) 70 75 75 78, Kevin Chappell 72 74 75 77, Ryan Moore 71 75 82 70

299 Hideki Matsuyama (Jpn) 69 73 80 77, Scott Brown 69 76 79 75, Abraham Ancer (Mex) 73 74 79 73, Robby Shelton 72 75 78 74, Byeong-Hun An (Kor) 71 76 75 77, Nick Taylor (Can) 73 73 74 79

300 Rod Perry 72 73 79 76, Doc Redman 73 73 79 75, Brian Gay 73 72 78 77, Sam Saunders 74 73 78 75

301 Davis Love III 72 73 76 80

302 Vaughn Taylor 73 73 77 79

308 Wyndham Clark 74 72 82 80

313 Rob Oppenheim 69 78 83 83

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