Belfast Telegraph

Home Sport Golf

Hatton makes progress and Woods also aims to improve Open prospects

Early birdie boosts hopes of overnight leader JB Holmes.

Tyrrell Hatton moved up the leaderboard (David Davies/PA)
Tyrrell Hatton moved up the leaderboard (David Davies/PA)

England’s Tyrrell Hatton made an early move up the leaderboard as Tiger Woods tried to bounce back from his worst opening round in the Open on day two at Royal Portrush.

Hatton outscored Woods by 10 shots with a first-round of 68 and picked up birdies on the fifth and sixth on Friday to improve to five under par.

Former champion Jordan Spieth was alongside Hatton after following birdies on the fifth and sixth with an eagle on the par-five seventh, with overnight leader JB Holmes making a birdie on the second to retain top spot.

Woods admitted he had a “hard time moving” during his warm up for the first round and carded just one birdie in a seven-over 78, his highest opening round in 21 Open appearances by three shots.

The 43-year-old, who underwent spinal fusion surgery in April 2017 and won his 15th major title in the Masters two years later, faced a tall order to avoid missing the cut but made the ideal start with a birdie from 30 feet on the first.

England’s Tommy Fleetwood was two shots off the lead after covering the front nine in 35, with world number one Brooks Koepka another stroke back following one birdie and one bogey in his first eight holes.

bpanews_4ff0793d-0c25-4dff-82b9-a5cc3978f1bf_embedded244189192
Tiger Woods celebrates his birdie on the opening hole (RIchard Sellers/PA)

Hatton admitted earlier this week that he has lacked motivation since his successful Ryder Cup debut, the 27-year-old partnering Paul Casey to a 3&2 win over then-world number one Dustin Johnson and Rickie Fowler as Europe enjoyed an emphatic win over the United States in Paris.

He went on to finish second in his bid to win a hat-trick of Dunhill Links titles at St Andrews in October but had managed just two top 10s from 17 events so far in 2019.

“It’s not been a great year to be honest,” Hatton told PA after finishing joint 14th in the Scottish Open. “It’s fair to say I’ve struggled since the Ryder Cup perhaps with motivation and not really enjoying golf.

“Obviously it’s a massive high and coming away from that, most events don’t seem that big in comparison.

“I’ve struggled with that, it’s been one of the hardest things for me this year, and if you look at my stats my putting hasn’t been that great, whereas a couple of years ago I was ranked first in strokes gained on the PGA Tour.

“This year I think at my worst I was around 150th. I’ve moved up a bit to around 125, which is still not great. I’ve gone back to the same shape of putter I was using when I won three times so hopefully we can rekindle an old flame there and get back to holing some putts.”

PA

Popular

From Belfast Telegraph