From angry young man to one of Europe’s leaders, now elder statesman Tyrrell Hatton is ready to make memories at the Ryder Cup
Tyrrell Hatton has one word to describe his developmental status as the elder statesman of Europe’s Ryder Cup team.
“Crazy,” he says, and like the angry golfer who is so often told to grow up, it’s a term that perhaps cuts both ways.
That’s what he can seem like at times: a ball of rage who rarely lets a bad shot travel too far before sending a good insult after it.
But it’s also something of a disservice to characterize Hatton for his strengths, because he’s on the cusp of a third straight Ryder Cup appearance for good reason.
He never needed a wildcard for entry into golf’s biggest event, nor did he need Luke Donald for Rome. With seven top-six finishes on the PGA Tour in 2023, it’s a slim list of golfers who have more, meaning Hatton has comfortably worked his way up to a team in transition.
Tyrrell Hatton says it’s ‘crazy’ that he’s one of the elder statesmen of Europe’s Ryder Cup team
In his third appearance, he’s ready to replace some of the iconic figures missing this year
“In that sense, Europe will look different,” he says, and it remains to be seen how much.
For the first time since 1997, none of Lee Westwood, Sergio Garcia, Ian Poulter or Paul Casey will be seen in blue and gold at this most cherished of sporting encounters. Age and the toxicity of Gulf politics have cleared away iconic figures, but left gaps that need to be filled. Therefore, at the age of 31, Hatton’s role in the set-up has taken on a deeper meaning.
“Yes, we won’t see as many of the normal faces that you’re used to seeing over the last fifteen, twenty years,” he says. “What they helped Europe achieve during that period was astonishing for European golf. I’m sure they’ll all be watching the Ryder Cup because it’s such a special few weeks for all of us who have been lucky enough to play in it. The best golf experiences of our lives, to be honest.
“I’m sure some of them will be a little sad that they’re not here, and I’d like them to cheer us on. But the squad we have is a pretty exciting team. The young guys are going to be the future of the Ryder Cup. But when you say elder statesman, yeah, that’s insane to me.
‘It’s strange that it will be my third. But I’m looking forward to coming into the team room and being an open book if there are any questions that some of the rookies have.”
The sense of innovation surrounding this team is marked by an average age of 30 – the youngest in Europe since 1987 – and is most explicitly seen by the presence of two of their wildcards, 22-year-old Nicolai Hojgaard and Ludvig Aberg. It is the latter whose recording has caused such a stir and cautious excitement, just three months after he turned professional.
“I was actually there for his first pro tournament,” Hatton says. ‘Canadian Open. Fitz (Matt Fitzpatrick) and I were in a group with him for the first two laps. You hear how good he is and it was very impressive to see him up close.
‘The way he hits the ball: very long and very straight. That’s very difficult to do. I imagine he’s probably already comfortable with tour life. It always takes some getting used to, but I’m sure we’re probably all in the same boat and think he’ll get stronger and stronger.
‘With him there is also the mental side. Did you see how he chased Fitz to win his first title in Switzerland earlier this month? What a way to get your first win.
‘He’s very down to earth. That temperament he has on the court is probably the opposite of mine!’
How Aberg handles the unique rigors of the Cup could be one of the defining stories of the week. That oven can turn the most sedate golfers into maniacs.
“I enjoy seeing what it brings out in people,” Hatton says. ‘It’s such an experience. Shane (Lowry) in 18th at Whistling Straits when we played together was a good one.”
He thinks of the 10-foot putt that sank the Irishman for a one-up victory in the afternoon fourballs against Tony Finau and Harris English. An isolated highlight in an otherwise heavy defeat for Europe, Lowry threw his putter to the floor before almost knocking Hatton to the ground with a bear hug.
“Brilliant,” says Hatton. ‘It’s the moments that stay with you. I also really liked the Alex Noren putt on the 18th in Paris in 2018. That was before the win and I can’t really describe the feeling. I remember sprinting to the green and we were all just losing it. You always want that feeling again. Those cup moments stay with you forever.’
The inclusion of Ludvig Aberg has caused a lot of commotion and cautious excitement within the team
Hatton has had mixed experiences in the Ryder Cup, but he is motivated to set the record straight
Hatton’s experiences in the match were mixed. His 2-4-1 record is split between a stunning win in Paris and a hammering at Whistling Straits, where his score of 1.5 from four was the third best in Europe overnight. As we enter Rome, where Donald’s team will try to defend a thirty-year undefeated home run, that defeat still lingers.
“It’s a motivation to make things right,” he says.
For all the riches in Europe’s top order, led by Rory McIlroy, Jon Rahm and Viktor Hovland, it will be an incredibly tall order against an American team with a much shorter tail.
Says Hatton: “I don’t think there are any favorites. “Anything can happen in 18 holes of match play and if we can get the crowd on our side, let’s see where it takes us.”