When Tyrrell Hatton was a youngster, he won an event at the local par three course for which he was rewarded with a mini green jacket. As the young Englishman begins his rookie season on The European Tour, dreams of one day claiming the real Green Jacket are a small step closer.
The 22 year old graduated from the Challenge Tour after a stunning run of form in the latter stages of the 2013 season, starting with a crucial and season-defining performance at the lucrative Kazakhstan Open, where he finished in a share of second place.
He followed that up with another tied runner-up finish at the Foshan Open, before a share of sixth at the season-ending Dubai Festival City Challenge Tour Grand Final hosted by Al Badia Golf Club meant he claimed the tenth card on offer through European golf’s second tier.
Having missed just two cuts in 17 appearances in his first full season on the Challenge Tour, it was a reward not only for his ability to produce big performances when it mattered most, but also for his remarkable consistency.
Now, the man from Marlow in the southern English county of Buckinghamshire is ready to live the dream, one which has been ever-present in his life since attending the BMW PGA Championship as a youngster.
“It’s been a goal of mine since I was a little kid to play on The European Tour, so obviously it’s very pleasing,” he said after securing his card in Dubai in November. “I thought I could do it, but to actually do it after just one year makes me extremely happy.
“When you’re a little kid playing on the putting green you’re thinking to yourself, ‘I’ve got this putt to get on The European Tour or to win The Open,’ silly things like that, but to say I have a European Tour card is incredible.
“I'm going to treat myself, I think it’s about time I bought myself a nice watch, something to look back on in a few years. I think I deserve it!”
Time is certainly on Hatton’s side as he enters the highest echelons of world golf, and he will be inspired by some of his young friends who have managed to make an impact on The European Tour in the past couple of years.
“I'm really going to enjoy the whole experience of The European Tour,” he said. “It’s a completely new experience, but I played amateur golf with a few of the guys that are out there already so it should be good fun.
“I played a lot with the likes of Andy Sullivan, Tom Lewis and Eddie Pepperell so if I can do similar things to what they’ve done, I would be quite happy with that.”
One person who made a big impact in 2013 was Pepperell, a 2012 Challenge Tour graduate whose biggest performance of his rookie season came at the BMW PGA Championship, and a strong showing at Wentworth Club is something Hatton places higher than any other goal this season.
“I’d love to play the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth,” he said. “It’s only 25 minutes from my house and I’ve grown up going to watch that event as a kid, so it would be amazing to be inside the ropes this time.
“I have played two Open Championships, but it would be so cool to play so close to home and with all the local support.”
And what about adding a second Green Jacket to his wardrobe, after winning the mini jacket at the Wickham Heights Junior Masters so many years ago?
“I think that’s quite far away at the moment! But you never know, a couple of good seasons on The European Tour and why not? It would be amazing to play the Masters, I've grown up watching it year in year out, so to play in it would be unbelievable.”