Any sense of joy felt by Tyrrell Hatton on account of the new golf season failed to last long. The Englishman, perhaps already irked that the Abu Dhabi Championship moved from the golf club bearing the same name after he won there 12 months ago, fired a quite epic volley towards the 18th hole at Yas Links after delivering a quadruple bogey nine there on Saturday.
“It must be one of the worst par fives that I’ve ever seen in my life and, over the last two days, I’ve clearly played it about as well as it was designed,” said Hatton, who took seven there on Friday.
“It’s just really frustrating. I thought I played pretty good yesterday and was not sure how I managed to shoot 77. I really wanted to go out today and make amends and I played so good. I’m six under for 13 holes, I’ve got all the shots back and more and then we get to the 18th.”
Indeed, at six under par before his final hole woes, Hatton was at least in contention to successfully defend his title. The 54-hole lead, held by Scott Jamieson, is 11 under.
Pressed on what precisely is wrong with the 18th, Hatton was not of a mind to back down. “What’s wrong with it? Where do you start?” he asked. “It shouldn’t have a bunker in the middle of the fairway and it shouldn’t be over 600 yards from a forward tee. If you hit a good drive as a pro you should have at least a chance to go for the green in two, otherwise the hole becomes a par three [after the first two shots] and that’s if you play it well. Hardly anyone will get there in two today.
“I can’t remember the last time I got a nine, I certainly haven’t had one that I can recall as a pro. I was probably about 14 the last time it happened.”
Hatton had found the bunker in question from the tee but from a bad lie subsequently had to play on to the 10th fairway. He then hit into water, had to take a drop into cabbage from where he regarded the ball as “basically unplayable”. He ended up in a greenside bunker, took two to get out and the same number of putts.
On matters more positive, Jamieson’s advantage is by one from Shane Lowry and Thomas Pieters. “It would be massive, a game changer to win a tournament of this stature,” said Jamieson, the world No 336. “There’s definitely been some great champions here but there’s an awful long way to go.”
Lowry is seeking a first win since the 2019 Open. He had troubles of his own at the last after confusion between he and his caddie about where an approach shot should be aimed. Lowry at least saved par. “We were aiming at the HSBC sign but his one was 30 yards right of the one I was looking at,” Lowry explained. “New course, I thought I hit a perfect shot. I couldn’t believe it came down where it did. It was a bad mistake to make because we shouldn’t be doing it in that situation. I got very lucky, it could have been a different story. I’m not sure I’d be standing here if so, I might be sitting in the locker room sulking.”