“Mike has bought a place in Leicester,” reported Hatton after signing for a three-under-par 69 at Albany Golf Club in the company of fellow Englishman Matthew Fitzpatrick.
“And, when we found out that we’d got the invitation for this week, he was pretty quick to say he wasn’t going to come, which is fine.
“He’s got stuff to sort out at home after a long year and it’s nice to share this experience with my best mate, Hugo, on the bag.”
Out in the first match in an event featuring just 20 players, Hatton and Fitzpatrick, who also broke par with a 71, were round in just over three-and-a-half hours.
“Yeah, it was good,” said Hatton of that pace. “When I saw the draw and I was first out with Fitzy, I knew we’d get round in a decent time.
“We were flying on the front nine before our momentum was halted a bit in terms of the pace when I made a little bit of a mess of 10.”
Hatton, who dropped his only shot of the day there, is delighted to be making his debut in an event hosted by Tiger Woods, who is here this week despite not playing at the moment as he recovers from his car crash earlier in the year.
“It’s funny as Fitzy and I were chatting about it at the pro-am dinner last night and again today,” said Hatton of the pair teeing up in the event.
“When you see Tiger in a room, he’s got a real presence about him and it’s good to see him making a recovery.
“I’d always just missed out on playing in this event through the world rankings. I’d been a fraction too low, so it’s nice to finally be here this week.”
In his first outing since playing on the winning US Ryder Cup team at Whistling Straits in September, Daniel Berger set the clubhouse target with a six-under 66, which was quickly matched by Mexican Abraham Ancer.