Tyrrell Hatton in the hat for Ryder Cup contention

After the latest heroics of Tyrrell Hatton at the Italian Open, who could blame Harleyford Golf Club — the Marlow venue where he learned the game — for putting out a tweet for Europe’s Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn: ‘Shall we start organising a members’ trip to France?’ 

Here is the Dane’s short and emphatic response: yes, they should.

Bjorn is actually at the Ryder Cup venue in Versailles right now for a promotional ‘year to go’ jaunt. He knows as well as anyone there’s an awful lot of golf to be played before he finalises his team.

Tyrrell Hatton is on cloud nine this week after back-to-back European Tour victories

But he’s seen enough from Hatton with back-to-back victories over the last incredible fortnight to believe he’s one of the rare breed who will revel in the hype and hoopla. ‘Tyrrell has not only got a great chance of making the team in 12 months’ time but achieving great things in general,’ said Bjorn. ‘Performances like those we have seen from him are very special and for the very few. He is turning into one hell of a player.’

Indeed, you have to go back four years and Phil Mickelson’s victories in the Scottish Open and The Open to find the last time a player won consecutive tournaments staged in Europe. Hatton’s victories in the Dunhill Links at St Andrews and Italy on Sunday saw him return a staggering cumulative total of 45 under par for eight rounds. His scoring average was a startling 65.9 strokes per round while over the course of 144 memorable holes he registered a remarkable 54 birdies.

Not bad for someone who, during a long and frustrating summer, reached the point where he was wondering where his next birdie was coming from.

How did the incredible transformation come about? For the answer let us head back to the beginning, and a delicious twist on the time-honoured story of golfing fathers and sons. 

Hatton put in a splendid final flourish at the Italian Open to take a last gasp victory

Hatton put in a splendid final flourish at the Italian Open to take a last gasp victory

How many times have we seen the offspring of golf professionals go on to follow in their father’s footsteps? From Peter Alliss way back to Justin Thomas, taking in Davis Love, Jim Furyk and Sam Torrance to name but three in between, it’s been a well-worn road to success.

In this instance, Jeff Hatton became a coach to teach 11 year old Tyrrell. At the age of 42, he turned his back on a career in management and did the coaching courses and the exams. From that point onwards, he remains the only coach his son, who’s just turned 26, has had.

For the past 13 years Jeff Hatton has run his own independent golf business, offering not just lessons but club repairs and a bespoke club-building service that sees him make around 50 sets a year. On the wall in his small workshop is an early prototype club – a six iron cut down to size for Tyrrell when he was around three years old.

‘He started using plastic clubs when he was about 18 months but we never got to keep any of those as he wore them out,’ said Jeff. ‘There were no alloy or junior sets around so I chopped up a six iron with a hacksaw for him. It was quite a job.’

Hatton was just six years old and playing with the likes of his chum Jonathan Bell – now his caddie, and a pro in his own right – when Jeff noticed something different. ‘I remember a play-off for the Junior Masters at Harleyford and quite a few people came out to watch,’ he recalled. ‘It was interesting to see how Tyrrell clearly revelled in playing in front of an audience, and how it made him raise his game.’

Hatton’s first win as a pro at the Dunhill Links last year was part of a whirlwind rise up the world rankings from 121st to 14th in the space of a little over 12 months. Then, just as quickly as he had become a fixture on leaderboards, he disappeared again.

Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn will now have Hatton in his considerations after his form

Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn will now have Hatton in his considerations after his form

A missed halfway cut in his first Masters in April prefaced a dreadful run that would lead to him failing to make the weekend in five successive events.

Jeff had thought the days of teaching his son were at an end but it was clear his wise counsel and shrewd eye were needed once more. ‘In the end it was about going back to basics,’ he said. ‘While he was playing in America there were a lot of distractions and outside influences, people making comments about little things wrong with his swing that turned Tyrrell’s head a bit.

‘It’s amazing how you miss one cut and people think it’s part of the game but miss two and everyone’s got an opinion. He started hitting too many practice balls and that’s never been our way. We’ve always strived for quality over quantity. So we worked calmly on the things we’ve always done, and certain positions in his swing. It was a hard time for him but I think there was a comfort factor in knowing it had worked before.’

There are shades of Colin Montgomerie in the fact long sessions on the practice ground prove counter-productive. Shades as well in the manner in which Hatton is always fighting a constant battle with his emotions.

‘Tyrrell met Monty, funnily enough, when he was young and has always looked up to him,’ revealed Jeff. ‘I think they’re both players who wear their heart on their sleeve and show their passion. I know people sometimes have a go at Tyrrell for his temperament but isn’t it better to watch someone who’s a little different and exciting?’

Hatton's story is one of a boy who played with a sawn-off club to making £1.4million in a week

Hatton’s story is one of a boy who played with a sawn-off club to making £1.4million in a week

One big difference between the pair is that Hatton leaves his frustrations on the course, and will speak to reporters after a bad day. ‘He’s just a quiet lad away from golf, and very humble,’ John Fay, his manager for the last seven years, said.

No doubt there will still be days when Hatton’s competitive desire gets the better of him. But, given his considerable ball striking capabilities and a short game to drool over, it’s an exciting thought of what he will achieve over the next decade on those blessed days like Sunday, when he harnesses it to thrilling effect.

P.S: The original Colin Montgomerie is still going strong, at the age of 54. On Sunday on the Champions Tour in America he won his second tournament in the space of five weeks, holding off Vijay Singh with a final round 64 to claim the SAS Championship.

Tiger Woods has posted another progress video, this one showing him hitting a driver with a full swing. 

No word yet on a comeback date, or whether there’s any chance his back will be able to withstand the rigours of tour life. 

Right now, it’s enough to see he’s sufficiently pain-free to enjoy something approaching his old quality of life.

Making Progress

A post shared by Tiger Woods (@tigerwoods) on

Tiger Woods posted a video of himself on social media driving a ball down the fairway 

Tiger Woods posted a video of himself on social media driving a ball down the fairway 

Quote of the Week: ‘I don’t think you can ever say who is the greatest of all time in any sport. I would never say Tiger is greater than Jack, or the other way around. They never played against each other. I won six championships and Bill Russell won 11, so does that make him better than me, or me better than him? That whole debate is just for selling stories and getting hype.’

Michael Jordan – commonly referred to as the greatest basketball player of all time, whether he likes it or not – opts for diplomacy on the respective merits of Tiger Woods and Jack Nicklaus. 

What is beyond dispute is Jordan’s love for golf. In an interview for Cigar Aficionado magazine the four handicapper, who is now 54, revealed he plays 36 holes…..almost every day.

Icon Michael Jordan (L) loves golf but won't pick between Tiger Woods and Jack Nicklaus

Icon Michael Jordan (L) loves golf but won’t pick between Tiger Woods and Jack Nicklaus

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