“It feels amazing. I've wanted this moment since I was a six year old walking around Wentworth. It's incredible.”
Proving a childhood dream can turn into reality, a now 25 year old Tyrrell Hatton showed the golfing world he meant business in 2016.
As a 2013 Challenge Tour graduate in search of his maiden European Title, Hatton’s four-shot victory at the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship came as no surprise to golf pundits and was certainly one to savour for the young Englishman.
Breakthrough win at The Home of Golf
Firing seven birdies and a solitary bogey to ease his way to a four-shot victory at the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship, Hatton played the golf of his life across three of the most famous links courses in the world- The Old Course at St Andrews, Kingsbarns and Carnoustie - all with Hollywood star Jamie Dornan by his side.
After producing a stunning 62 to equal the course record at St Andrews on Saturday, Hatton held his nerve to post a closing 66 at the Old Course to finish the week on 23 under par.
It's quite clearly the best round I've ever had.
Heading into the final round with a three-shot lead, Hatton got off to a strong start, rolling in his birdie putt from six feet at the third before draining a 25-foot putt at the next to pick up another shot, on his way to four birdies before reaching the turn.
"It's weird, you know, I felt a little bit uncomfortable over the ball at times but my putting this week really helped me out and that's been key to lifting the trophy this week,” said Hatton in his post victory press conference.
It was a day in which Hatton could do no wrong, birdies on the 12th, 14th, and 15th ensued as he closed in on a career defining win.
I was pretty nervous all day. I started to feel a little bit more comfortable, sort of down 14, 15, but I'm just so happy I got over the line.
He dropped his only shot of the day at the 17th after getting into bunker trouble, but coolly sunk his par putt at the last with his girlfriend and friends watching on at the Home of Golf.
Consistency proves key
What a difference a year can make.
Coming into the 2016 season, Hatton was sitting in 35th position on the Race to Dubai Rankings presented by Rolex, add to that ten top ten finishes and all of a sudden fourth place is a pretty handy position to find yourself in at the end of the year.
Having only missed the cut three times in his 23 appearances, Hatton was focused on breaking through to the top 50 of the Official World Golf Ranking after his first European Tour win in Scotland.
"I had the target of getting inside the top 50 in the world and I think I was 53rd going into this week, so I'm looking forward to tomorrow morning to see where I've moved up to. But hopefully I can have a good end to the year and move up a little bit higher," he said.
And higher he went. All the way to 24th in the world, jumping 81 spots over the course of the year. With a career best stroke average of 69.93, registering him in fourth position amongst his peers, Hatton’s progress was felt across most areas of his game with gains in driving distance complimented with him hitting a solid 70.8 percent of greens in regulation.
It was a case of what could have been for Hatton in two close calls in 2016. He was runner up to Sweden’s Alex Noren at Castle Stuart Golf Links after the 34 year old producing some incredible play to close out a one-shot victory at the Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open.
Although it wasn’t the result he wanted, upon his return to Scotland later in the year he made amends, and with the experienced gained, went on to win at the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship.
As the 2016 Race to Dubai drew to a close, Hatton found himself on the final day at the DP World Tour Championship, Dubai inches away from his second career victory.
Yet it was not to be. Hatton carded a bogey on the 18th opening the door to his countryman Matt Fitzpatrick, who birdied his way to a third European Tour title.
Hatton remained focused on the positives despite missing out on the win. He said: "Obviously it's a bitter pill to swallow, but it's been a great week and for me it's been the best year of my life. So I can't get too downbeat, but these things happen.
You know, it is what it is and I'm happy with how the week went. I'm sure hopefully in the future, I'll take my next chance.