Tyrrell Hatton just loves the Home of Golf.
Ross Fisher’s a bit of a fan, too. Victor Dubuisson also felt right at home over the game’s original course.
Hatton made history at St. Andrews by becoming the first player to successfully defend the $5 million Alfred Dunhill Links Championship. The 25-year-old rode a five-shot overnight lead to take the $793,000 first-place check.
He needed that five-shot lead to hold off Fisher. The 2010 Ryder Cup player fashioned a course record 11-under 61 around the Old Course to take second place on his own and earn just under $530,000. Dubuisson finished third to rescue his 2017 season.
Hatton’s closing 66 gave him a 24-under winning total, one shot better than last year’s tally. It helped him beat Fisher by three shots.
“It’s an unbelievable feeling,” Hatton said. “It felt so much harder than last year.”
The Englishman admitted early in the week to struggling to control his temper. Anger management issues hindered him from winning the previous week’s British Masters, so he was glad to be teamed up with actor Jamie Dornan in the Pro-Am format.
“The format helps me,” Hatton said. “Playing with Jamie, we have good fun out there and it keeps me relaxed which is what I need.”
Fisher played in the group in front of Hatton and had a chance at shooting 59 if he could eagle the driveable 18th hole. He just failed to make the green, his ball coming up short in the Valley of Sin. He then missed a four-foot birdie putt that would have given him a 60.
“What a round by Fish,” Hatton said. “He pushed me all the way and I’m happy to get over the line.
“I didn’t see a leaderboard until 16th green and I saw he was on 21 under and that made the 17th tee shot harder.”
Fisher birdied seven of the Old Course’s first nine holes to be out in 29 and start the 59 watch. Calm conditions and little wind helped him finish second for the second year in a row.
“It was fun,” the 36-year-old said. “I knew starting off we were playing for second place because Tyrrell had such a big lead. When you get St. Andrews on a day like this, it’s gettable. You have to make a fast start and I managed to do that.”
Dubuisson arrived in Scotland looking at returning to the European Tour Qualifying School after a miserable season. Lying 122nd on the European money list with only the top 100 retaining playing rights for next year, the 2014 Ryder Cup player needed a good week. He had one. His closing 63 earned him check for just under $300,000 and now gives him a chance of getting into the season-ending DP World Tour Championship, Dubai.
However, the week belonged to Hatton. His win will take him to 22nd on the Official World Golf Ranking, surpassing his career best of 23rd in November last year. Don’t be surprised if he improves that ranking before the dust settles on the 2017 season.