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Jeff Hatton is an accomplished teaching pro and club fitter, the owner and operator of Hatton Golf, a specialty shop about 30 miles outside of London.
While Hatton works on clubs and helps perfect swings, one thing he doesn’t have much time to do is play golf. So this week, playing with his son Tyrrell — the 19th-ranked golfer in the world — has presented some new challenges.
For example, although Jeff is Tyrrell’s swing coach, the two haven’t had time to work through any tweaks or changes during the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship, which is played at St. Andrews Old Course, Carnoustie and on Thursday, Kingsbarns.
“He hasn’t sort of looked at my swing on the range or anything,” Tyrrell Hatton said on Thursday. “I think he’s been a bit too excited to play these courses for the first time, and actually he’s probably quite tired. He normally plays once every six weeks. And he did 18 holes on Tuesday, he did nine holes yesterday and obviously another 18 today.
“So the old boy is gonna be tired tomorrow, that’s for sure.”
Just because his father’s a bit winded doesn’t mean that Tyrrell is feeling the effects of a busy week. After returning from the Ryder Cup, Hatton was in fine form on Thursday, using a scintillating 29 on the back to finish at 64 after the opening round. Adri Arnaus, Nicolas Colsaerts and Haotong Li are also sitting tied atop the leaderboard with Hatton.
— Alfred Dunhill Links Championship (@dunhilllinks) September 30, 2021
But the topic of focus in a post-round interview was Hatton’s father, who had promised that he wouldn’t get the jitters playing in the event.
“He admitted that he was nervous, which he said, sort of in the whole build-up to this, he was like, no, I won’t be nervous, I won’t be nervous. And he actually played quite nicely in the practice rounds and he’s gone out there today and obviously not played to the level that you’d like to,” Tyrrell said. “But I think he enjoyed it and we’ll have a good day tomorrow.”
Hatton certainly had fun, using an eagle on the 12th hole to negate the blemish on his card, a bogey on No. 7. He’s looking for his third win in this event after winning the title in both 2016 and 2017. The only other player to win this tournament twice is Padraig Harrington, who captained the Ryder Cup team at Whistling Straits last week.
In terms of the course rotation, Hatton pondered when asked which was his favorite before offering a predictable answer.
“I’d probably just say St. Andrews,” he said. “I think just with the history of it and it just it feels more special when you’re playing there and we’ll look forward to playing there on Saturday.”