Tyrrell Hatton was in playful mood here in the Ryder Cup media centre on Wednesday, wondering why Jon Rahm does not curse in his native tongue and challenging his prospective foursomes partner to “a swear-off”.
The Englishman’s exchange with reporters inevitably went viral, with social media lapping up a professional golfer who does not take himself too seriously.
“I don’t understand why Jon doesn’t swear in Spanish,” Hatton said. “Why does he swear in English? I don’t get it. He would probably get away with it if he just swore in Spanish. Maybe the English language has a bit more punch to it with certain words.
“I think I would probably win in a swear-off. I’ve got everyone covered when it comes to that. Any time of day, anywhere. No holding back. Doesn’t matter what we’re doing. I’m swearing.”
“How about now?” he was asked. “F--- off,” Hatton replied. “On that note, thanks for joining us,” the startled press officer said, with the room erupting in laughter, as the giggling 31-year-old thanked his audience and waved goodbye.
Video below contains offensive language:
— Carl Markham (@carlmarkham) September 27, 2023
Hatton is often misunderstood, criticised for his on-course tantrums and depicted as an entitled brat. He is not at all, but in quieter moments before arriving in Rome, he explained to Telegraph Sport that he appreciates why some viewers turn against him.
“Sometimes my reactions are not for everyone and I accept that I leave myself open to get stick for it,” he said. “But now and again I need that release and if you look at it, I invariably bounce straight back after letting loose. Some guys bottle it up a bit and hide what they truly feel and sometimes that can be destructive for them. Whereas I kind of just get it all out there. I guess there are some circumstances when it’s not appropriate, though.”
Namely, at the Ryder Cup when he has a partner. “When you’re playing alongside someone, you don’t want to be too negative and you don’t want to ruin any energy or take away any sort of positivity that your partner has,” he said. “That definitely plays a part in maybe trying to be a little bit less individual. It depends on that personality, really.”
That is why Rahm and Hatton seem such a good fit and it would be a surprise not to see “Team Angry” teeing it up in the opening session on Friday morning. Their games suit - both great ball-strikers with enviable short games - as, of course, do their personalities.
“We are both fiery and we don’t mind if the other goes a bit mad - maybe we even identify with it and sympathise,” Hatton said. “It’s a sport and it’s about letting off emotion, isn’t it. People play golf to relax, but the game also attracts very competitive people and the fact it’s so difficult is part of its attraction. So long as you get it all out and not let it affect your life, there’s nothing wrong, unless you are being offensive to someone. We are not robots, there is passion, and Jon gets that and it’s why people like to watch him so much.”
Clearly, this is not a match made in repression and is a relationship in which the combustible is acceptable. They even have their own coded language.
“It’s funny, when Jon wants a reaction out of me he calls me ‘Tye-rrell’, instead of plain ‘Tyrrell’. He started calling me that at Whistling Straits [at the 2021 Ryder Cup] when we were playing in the Friday afternoon fourballs against Scottie [Scheffler] and Bryson [DeChambeau]. I can’t remember where he said it, but I played a good shot straight afterwards and he’s stuck with it. But then I didn’t hit that many good shots that week so you can understand why.”
Hatton’s self-deprecation is another likeable trait. In truth, he performed impressively alongside Rahm, nervelessly holing a seven-foot birdie putt on the last to rescue a half. The next day he and Shane Lowry beat Tony Finau and Harris English on the last. Interestingly, it was Lowry producing the histrionics, persuading Hatton not to give the Americans a few short putts as he tried “to get in their heads”. That is not Hatton’s style.
“I sort of concentrate on myself and internalise things, and I’m not saying it’s wrong but gamesmanship doesn’t really occur to me,’ he said. “I brush off any heckles, don’t let it affect me. You’ve probably realised but mainly if I am annoyed on the course, I am annoyed primarily with myself.
— DP World Tour (@DPWorldTour) March 30, 2023
“But that’s just in the moment. I know it sounds boring, but if I’ve tried my best then I figure there’s not much else I can do. I may not project it, but it’s really not a game of being perfect and you don’t want to be trying too hard to be perfect because it’s just not going to happen and you’ll ultimately be left disappointed.
“That’s why I don’t think I have anything to prove in the Ryder Cup. Yes, I’ve only got 2 1/2 points from a possible seven in my two appearances, but if you think that the player with the best percentage who has played in four Cups or more since GB&I became Europe all those years ago is Luke [Donald, the captain] with 70 per cent, that shows how difficult it is to come by points in the Ryder Cup. Seve [Ballesteros], who is basically the Cup’s biggest legend, had something like a 60 per cent winning ratio.
“You’re playing against the best players in the world. If you win half of your matches, then that is a great effort. Sure, I’d like to win more and get my ratio up, because it’s all about contributing to the team. That’s all that matters.”
Hatton has enjoyed a great season, jumping from world No 26 to 11th. He has racked up 10 top-10 finishes, of which eight have been top sixes, with runners-up finishes in the flagship events on the PGA Tour and DP World Tour at The Players and this month’s BMW PGA respectively. Previously, his career was not marked by consistency and instead he won in patches. In 2023, this has flip-flopped and Hatton is not certain he completely approves.
“It’s great to be playing well week in week out - it’s what you attain to,” he said. “But the thing about winning in streaks is that you do have high points to look back at. You are remembered for your titles essentially and, despite playing great, there haven’t been any yet this year. I’d be happy with my season if it doesn’t happen and I’d take winning the Ryder Cup over strokeplay events.”
And if Europe do prevail? “I will just try not to get in the same state as in Paris [in 2018] when I woke up in the bathroom in my hotel room. I’m sad to admit I have previous for that. I did the same after winning in Bay Hill [in 2020] as well. I get excited, drink too much, start shouting Ralph at the toilet and then fall asleep where I am. But not this time if we win. Alcohol-free only, no hangover incoming. Famous last words.”
Tyrrell Glen Hatton. Wonderfully human.