Ryder Cup stars Tyrrell Hatton and Tommy Fleetwood clearly are revelling in a home crowd environment to be in contention at the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship. Hatton, winner of the event back-to-back in 2016 and ’17, toughed-out a round of 70 in very windy conditions at Kingsbarns Links to move to 10-under par and one clear of fellow Englishman Daniel Gavins who signed for a 68 at Carnoustie.
Danny Willett grabbed a 12th hole eagle at Kingsbarns Links in a score of 69 to be tied in third at nine-under while 2018 Ryder Cup hero, Tommy Fleetwood signed for a 71 also at Kingsbarns Links to be at eight-under par.
Hatton has his father Jeffrey as his amateur partner while Fleetwood’s father Pete followed his son along with shoreline of St. Andrews Bay unhindered, unlike last week’s verbal torture trek for family members around the course overlooking Lake Michigan. Hatton said: “Being back home just doesn’t feel as stressful as a normal tournament and that has probably helped the guys to come and play this week after a Ryder Cup.
“Last week you had the standard comments. If you were teeing off, guys would be saying ‘water on the left’ before you hit your shot or ‘water on the right’. Stupid stuff like that. “The only bad stuff I had was a guy opening a can at the top of my backswing on 15 on Saturday afternoon. It is what it is.
“I am sure Emily, my wife, heard some things they said about me, but I personally didn’t hear anything. You expect a hostile atmosphere when you play a Ryder Cup away and obviously they created that.
“And that’s why it’s just so nice to be back here and with Kingsbarns Links always a good set up here and we also are well looked after. I especially like the little donuts they have – they are dangerous (laughing).” Fleetwood, and one half of the unbeaten ‘Moliwood’ 2018 team in Versailles, said: “The British spectators are always great and it’s nice to have found more in my favour. They are much kinder.
“Last week was an amazing life experience for us and given what was happening with the crowd, it 100% brought us so close together. I had a couple of great moments where I was in the last group on the course.
“So, everybody was there. We all enjoyed it. We had an amazing time. And it was an experience to go out there, be a team and take on arguably the greatest Ryder Cup team of all-time. “For me, it’s been two Ryder Cups with contrasting extremes. We’ve won one and lost one. Team Europe is an amazing group of people. We can look back at putts we missed and shots we didn’t hit. “But the fact was we went out and fought and gave it our everything. Which was what we wanted to do. Everyone left with their heads held high. Even if we would like to have given it a bit more of a run.
“Also, the Americans got on great. They are very much in unison. And they have great strength-in-depth. It’s going to be hard. But we all want to get out there against them again and test ourselves. Win, lose or draw, there is nothing like the Ryder Cup experience.”
And Willett, whose parents were on the receiving end of some terrible name-calling at the 2016 Ryder Cup at Hazeltine, was just as relaxed playing the company of famed Jimmy Dunne, owner of the ultra-exclusive Seminole Club in Jupiter, Florida and with the duo tied at 18-under par in the team format of the Dunhill Links. “It’s been a great couple of days getting to play with Jimmy Dunne (his partner), Branden Grace and Johan (Rupert – partner). It’s just been nice to have fans back and playing back in a pro-am format again”, said Willett.
“Jimmy said to me back in April at Augusta he fancied playing so I said to him to ‘chalk’ me down. It’s his first time playing the events and he’s having a great week, as well. He’s good pals with a lot of guys playing and this is what the week is about. It’s just a good fun week. “At this time of the year, it is what a lot of people need”.
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