Tyrrell Hatton drank red wine and played Xbox while recovering from wrist surgery last November. He’ll be able to enjoy a lot more of both after breaking through for his first PGA Tour title Sunday with a one-stroke victory over Marc Leishman in the 42nd edition of the Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by Mastercard.
Hatton, 28, survived another difficult day on the Championship Course at Bay Hill Club & Lodge, carding a final-round 2-over-par 74 and completing 72 holes with a 4-under 284 total, the highest winning aggregate score in tournament history. Not since Martin Laird closed with a 75 in 2011 had the winner shot over par the final day.
“This is amazing,” Hatton said with a huge smile.
Leishman, who won this tournament in 2017 and served this week at one of three tournament ambassadors, almost authored quite the feel-good story, but birdie attempts on the final two holes came up empty. The amiable chap from Australia had a closing 73 and 285 total.
Sungjae Im, coming off a win the previous week at the Honda Classic, was another stroke back in third. He also shot 73 on Sunday.
Former U.S. Amateur champion Bryson DeChambeau birdied the 18th hole for the second straight day – there were only five birdies all weekend on the home hole – and scratched out a 1-under 71 for the only other aggregate score under par, a 1-under 287. Four players tied for fifth at even-par 288, including World No. 1 and 2018 champion Rory McIlroy, who began the day two back, but got little going in a final-round 76.
McIlroy and last year’s winner, Francesco Molinari, who didn’t get to defend his title after having with withdraw with a back injury, each shot 64 in final-round charges that would have made Mr. Palmer smile. Conditions were simply too tough this year with whipping winds and firm greens.
Hatton somehow survived, even after momentarily seeing a three-stroke lead disappear when he double-bogeyed the par-4 11th hole after finding the water. He managed his game well enough the rest of the way in, however, making pars on his final seven holes.
“Yeah, it's an incredible feeling to win at such an iconic venue and with obviously Arnie's name to it. Yeah, amazing feeling and it's very surreal to win this week,” said Hatton, 28, who previously had won four times on the European Tour, including the Turkish Airlines Open just weeks before his surgery on his right wrist. “I've grown up watching this event as a kid on TV, and to be sitting here next to the trophy now is an amazing feeling and very thankful I managed to hold on at the end.
“The setup was extremely tough,” he added. “And I said yesterday the hardest thing for me will be to manage myself. And over the course of this week I feel like I did a decent job of that.”
Hatton became the fifth straight international player to capture the title at Bay Hill, which comes with a paycheck of $1.674 million, a three-year exemption, and the stylish red cardigan sweater styled after the kind Mr. Palmer so often wore.
A sometime resident here in Orlando, where he rents a home, Hatton planned a big celebration Sunday evening. He promised red wine again would be his preferred beverage. He was going to take off the sweater first, though.
“I don't want to ruin it, and with the celebrations that will occur tonight I think it's best to put on a coat hanger,” he said with a grin. “But it's very special to have this and it will take quite a place in the wardrobe.”
Arnie would understand.
In other news: