Golf-Hatton ready to defend maiden PGA Tour title at Bay Hill

Tyrrell Hatton added a red cardigan to his closet with his win at last year’s Arnold Palmer Invitational and returns to Bay Hill this week knowing he must work on his putting if he wants to add a Green Jacket to his wardrobe at next month’s Masters.

World number six Hatton, the final winner on the PGA Tour before the COVID-19 shutdown, missed the cut at Augusta National last year and his best Masters finish in four starts was a share of 44th place in 2018.

“I need to figure out how to putt at Augusta, if that is ever going to be happen, to be honest,” the Englishman said on Wednesday in Orlando, Florida.

“Normally putting is a strong point for me and I’ve never putted well there, sadly. So obviously hoping that changes this year.”

Last year at Bay Hill, Hatton delivered a gritty performance during which he held off a strong field and even stronger winds to pick up a maiden PGA Tour title five days before the PGA Tour halted for three months because of the novel coronavirus.

But Hatton did not let the hiatus impact his game and has since enjoyed an impressive stretch that includes a number of top-10 finishes and European Tour victories at last October’s BMW PGA Championship and January’s Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.

“Although we did have, unfortunately, a long break not long after the tournament last year, I guess I kind of kept that run going and ended up having a brilliant year,” said Hatton.

Hatton, who may have been on the receiving end of the last big roar in golf, is looking forward to some semblance of normalcy as Bay Hill will allow 25% fan capacity, which would make it the most attended PGA Tour event since play resumed.

“It’s kind of hard to remember the cheers, really. We played a lot of golf since then with obviously no fans,” said Hatton, who will play the opening two rounds this week with Rory McIlroy and Francesco Molinari.

“It will be nice having a limited number of fans out there again, just to kind of give a bit more of an atmosphere and hopefully I can do something worth cheering about.” (Reporting by Frank Pingue in Toronto, editing by Ed Osmond)

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