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Tuesday, March 10, 2020

Tony spoke to former Reuters golf correspondent Tony Jimenez to reflect on last week’s Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill:

“It was an exciting tournament from a British standpoint. Apart from Tyrrell Hatton winning, Rory McIlroy was always a factor and it showed again how important the international players are to the PGA Tour.

The tour wouldn’t be anything without the input of the international players and that was proven again last week. I have to say I don’t really care for that sort of golf though. It’s water, water everywhere at Bay Hill and the greens are like ice rinks.

Penalty strokes and disaster lanes lurk everywhere. It’s a survival test as much as anything. It’s difficult to play attacking golf in those circumstances but I guess it’s the only defence courses have got against modern equipment.

Going back to Hatton, I believe he’s going to be a great asset for Europe at the Ryder Cup later this year. He’s a good player. He doesn’t appear much to look at but he’s mentally strong.

It seems like the only person he doesn’t like is himself. I was struck by something one of the TV commentators came out with when he said Hatton is really personable with everybody but himself.

That’s not a bad way to be. That sort of attitude tells you he’s trying to hit perfect shots all the time. It reminds me of the way Tom Weiskopf went about his golf 50 or so years ago.

Tom was mentored by the great Tommy Bolt, who was a perfectionist, and those guys, if they didn’t hit perfect shots all the time, they were seriously hacked off.

Hatton’s made of the same material and that’s a good thing. We all know that golf is the hardest game of them all and if you’ve only got one thing to think about, in his case how to control your temper, that’s a good place to be. He didn’t lose his rag last week and his victory was great for him and for British golf.

It was a disappointing final day for Rory. If you had put money down it probably would have been on him but it was a shabby performance in the last round. It looked as if he was in every bunker on the course.

But he still managed a top-five finish and that means his record going into The Players Championship is quite unbelievable. He’s had an amazing run of results in the last year and a half.

He’s difficult to figure out, though. He’s such a talented player, an amazing driver, which gives him an enormous advantage. His standards are so high that its sometimes hard to forget his human traits.

Personally, I think he’s up there with the greats of the past. You could make a strong case for saying there’s more talent out there now than ever before and Rory is maintaining a really high standard of performance.

But I don’t think we’ll ever see anyone deliver like Tiger Woods delivered at his peak. He produced week-in, week-out and if he looked like he was going to win a tournament, he won it.

That’s not always the case with Rory. He puts the cats among pigeons a bit. He keeps us thinking. He’s got similar ability to Tiger but things don’t always work out his way. There’s an element of hit and miss about his approach.

The first round of last year’s Open was a case in point. He wasn’t mentally ready for the first tee at his hometown event in Portrush, his opening shot went out of bounds, it all unravelled for him and he missed the cut.

Enigma is the word that comes to mind but equally he could just as easily win The Players and the Masters going forward over the next few weeks. When all’s said and done, no one out there is better than Rory.”