Gary Evans, who came close to winning The Open at Muirfield in 2002, hit out at Hatton over his behaviour in last week’s British Masters at Close House, where he led at the halfway stage before ending up joint eighth. “You’re a great talent with potential but you need to grow up mate, your on course whingeing and body language is a disgrace,” said Evans in a post to his fellow Englishman on Twitter.
Responding at a press conference at St Andrews, where he equalled the course record with a 62 en route to his maiden European Tour victory, Hatton said: “I’m a passionate person and I just try my best to win a golf tournament. You know, 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. In the heat of battle, sometimes you can do the wrong thing. That’s just how it is.”
Hatton defends a title for the first time in his career in a field that sees Race to Dubai leader Tommy Fleetwood return from a six-week break as a new dad. “I could talk about it for a year – if you wanted me to,” said a beaming Fleetwood on being asked about his partner and manager, Clare, having given birth to a son, Franklin, last Thursday.
Spending time away from the new arrival will be made easier if the Englishman goes on to be crowned as this season’s European No 1. It’s certainly looking good for him in that respect, holding a sizeable points lead over second-placed Sergio Garcia in the rankings. “I would love to win The Race to Dubai, absolutely love it and that’s the goal now,” he declared. “I was in hospital for a week nearly around the birth and it feels like you haven’t played for a year when you come back. But I was surprised how well I hit it at Carnoustie on Tuesday.”
Like Hatton, Fleetwood starts out at St Andrews, where others in action include US Ryder Cup player JB Holmes, former world No 1s Lee Westwood and Luke Donald and new British Masters champion Paul Dunne.