Tyrrell Hatton is the European Tour’s undisputed man of the moment after he followed up becoming the first player to pull off a successful defence of the Dunhill Links Championship by making it back-to-back wins with a stunning victory in the Italian Open.
However, another man who deserves to take a bow on that circuit is Marc Warren after he maintained a brilliant turnaround by taking his earnings over the past four weeks to close to £500,000 with another strong performance behind the Englishman at Golf Club Milano in Monza.
Hatton missed the cut in all four majors this season, but boy has the Marlow man rediscovered his form with a vengeance recently. That historic triumph in the Dunhill event may have been expected after he took a five-shot lead into the last round, but this success didn’t look likely for most of the final round.
It was secured thanks to a devastating burst of five birdies in the last seven holes, capped with a 15-footer at the last, as Hatton, who celebrated his 26th birthday on Saturday, stormed home in 30 for a closing 65 and a 21-under-par 263 total.
For the second week running, he denied compatriot Ross Fisher. A week after signing off with a course-record 61 at St Andrews, he carded a 63 on this occasion but had to be content with second once more, sharing that position with Kiradech Aphibarnrat after the Thai also finished strongly with a 65.
“I can’t believe I have won again,” admitted Hatton after picking up a cheque for around £880,000 for winning the European Tour’s latest Rolex Series event, jumping to fifth in the Race to Dubai in the process and also securing a place back in the world’s top 20.
“I’m not sure how far back I was going into the back nine, but I knew I needed plenty of birdies and was very fortunate that I holed a few putts coming in. On the front nine, I was fighting myself, trying to stay patient. J.B. [Jonathan Bell], my caddie, was saying ‘good things will come’ and it did at the end, when I guess I got my reward.”
Warren was facing the prospect of a visit to the Qualifying School at the end of the season when he headed into the Portugal Masters last month sitting 173rd in the Race to Dubai, but the 36-year-old is now up to 51st on that money list.
He finished joint tenth behind Hatton after signing off with a 66 for a 16-under-par total, having kick-started a season hampered by a serious shoulder injury by finishing second in Portugal then backing that up with a top-15 in the British Masters before claiming fifth spot behind Hatton in the Dunhill Links.
As a consequence, Warren’s season will now end instead at the Tour Championship in Dubai, where he is currently set to join Richie Ramsay (24th) and David Drysdale (45th) in flying the Saltire in the 60-man field at Jumeirah Golf Estates.
Having played seven events on the spin, Warren has decided to skip this week’s Andalucia Valderrama Masters, giving him a chance to spend a bit time at home with wife Laura and their new arrival, a baby daughter, before seeing if he can maintain that hot run of form and perhaps even beat his career-best 25th in the Race to Dubai in 2015.
“It is very exciting,” said Warren of what lies ahead compared to what might have been the case. “I’ve now got three greats events [the Turkish Airlines Open, Nedbank Challenge and DP World Tour Championship] coming up to finish the season. A few weeks ago I was nowhere near getting in these events, so to pretty much confirm all three was a good bonus going into two weeks off.”
Warren earned just over £90,000 for this latest encouraging effort, with Drysdale, who also closed with a 66 for a share of 26th spot, picking up £51,000 to add to the £215,000 he pocketed in another Rolex Series event, the Irish Open, earlier in the year. Ramsay won £32,252 for joint 40th.