Tyrrell Hatton can make European Tour history over the Old Course at St Andrews by becoming the first player to successfully defend the $5 million Alfred Dunhill Links Championship.
If he can control his temper.
The 25-year-old takes a five-shot lead into the final round as he tries to earn his second European Tour win where he earned his first. Hatton added a second consecutive 65, this time over Kingsbarns, to jump to 18 under par.
Gregory Bourdy is Hatton’s nearest rival. The Frenchman is on 13 under after returning a 66 at Carnoustie. Former UAB player Paul Dunne sits in solo third place on 11 under, with Luke Donald and Ross Fisher a further shot behind.
Hatton returned seven birdies and did not drop any shots over Kingsbarns to surge to the top of the leaderboard.
The Englishman’s biggest challenge over the final 18 holes around the Old Course is himself. He was in contention in last week’s British Masters going into the last round. He was one shot off the pace but ended up finishing eighth after getting in his own way.
Hatton endured a lot of criticism for the way he behaved in the British Masters final round, with former European Tour pro Gary Evans telling him to “grow up.
“You’re a great talent with potential but you need to grow up mate,” Evans tweeted. “Your on-course whinging and body language is a disgrace.”
Even in amateur golf Hatton struggled to control his temper, a facet of his character that probably kept him off several England teams. He’s tried hard to control his passion in the pro game, but admits it’s part of his make-up.
“That’s who I am,” Hatton said earlier this week when asked about his anger management problems.
“I’m a passionate person and I try my best to win a tournament,” he added. “Occasionally that spills over, and I’m human. I’m going to make mistakes from time to time. Nobody’s perfect and everyone goes about their ways differently.”
Hopefully he goes about his ways differently this week than last. A five shot-lead should help.
Tommy Fleetwood’s dream of winning his first tournament following the birth of his son last week took a severe knock at Kingsbarns. The European number one began the final day tied with Hatton for the lead after a course record 63 at Carnoustie. He was 13 shots worse at Kingsbarns with a 76 to slide back to joint 19th place.
Rory McIlroy’s hope of ending the season with a win is just that. He’s 14 shots off the lead on four under par in his last tournament of the season.