When Tyrrell Hatton’s par putt dropped in the cup on the 18th green at last year’s Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, the Englishman was at the apex of his golf career. He’d just put the finishing touches on a four-stroke win — his fourth worldwide over the previous 14 months — which elevated him to a personal-best fifth in the Official World Golf Rankings. 2021 seemed primed to be a career year.
Golf, however, is a fickle game, and the next 12 months proved to be a struggle. Hatton didn’t reach the winner’s circle again for the remainder of the year, registered just two top 10s in full-field events and spent much of the once-promising season stuck in neutral.
This week Hatton, now ranked 22nd in the world, is back at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship to defend his title. One year removed from the pinnacle of his success, he’s faced a multitude of questions about where it all went wrong.
His answers, in typical Hatton fashion, have been frank — and surprisingly relatable.
“It’s more down to where I was at mentally to be honest,” he said. “In 2020, I was working pretty hard in the gym throughout the whole year … The back half of last year, I was doing no training. Wasn’t that motivated to practice either.”
It’s not often fans can relate to professional athletes, but lacking motivation to get in the gym? We’ve all been there.
Hatton said loathing practice is dates back to his childhood. When he was a kid, his father used to have to coax him into heading to the range — especially during the winter months.
“[I was] sort of happy being inside or trying to play football all weekend at that stage,” Hatton said. “I’ve always really struggled with that kind of thing. I definitely don’t switch on to it, so I’m not really that focused whilst I’m there. It can be a little bit of a waste of time.”
Just like the everyman golfer, Hatton still has trouble making practice fun and engaging. He admitted he often just “goes through the motions” at the range (who hasn’t done that?), and is searching for a way to keep himself interested when he goes out to practice.
But with the calendar flipping to 2022, Hatton is rededicating himself to finding that previous form. Before embarking to the Middle East for his first start of the year, the 30-year-old flew to Orlando for a two-week bootcamp to get right for the year ahead. And while the results have been promising thus far, he’s still working to find the right formula.
“Training-wise has been good,” he said. “[I] still struggle with how to practice and what actually, when I get there is just going through the motions. But that’s a work-in-progress.”
In Abu Dhabi, the formula seemed to work — through 18 holes, at least. Hatton shot six under in his opening round and sat T4.
No word on whether he hit the range after his round.