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Irish Open: Tyrrell Hatton gearing up to deliver a knockout blow

By Peter Hutcheon

It was a day when almost everything went right for joint Irish Open leader Tyrrell Hatton.

The Englishman even holed out from 30 yards shy of the green on his way to a brilliant five-under 66 yesterday - which equalled the course record, set by Ireland's Jimmy Bruen in 1939.

In fact, he was four under through the opening three holes, starting eagle, birdie, birdie.

And the 23-year-old from High Wycombe has a refreshingly simplistic approach to his game.

"I just hit it close and holed a couple of putts," he said.

"I feel I've been hitting good putts of late and they've not been dropping but today they did.

"It was a little bit of a surprise to see them drop but I'm always happy to see it."

Hatton didn't even bother turning up to the two practice days on Monday and Tuesday and the first time he set eyes on the Royal County Down course was during Wednesday's Pro-Am.

Hatton is in a six-way tie for the lead with Rafa Cabrera-Bello, who was one of the later finishers with a round of 68, Denmark's Soren Kjeldsen, Scot Richie Ramsay, Austrian Bernd Wiesberger and fellow Englishman Chris Woods all at three under par.

Kjeldsen held a two-shot lead at five under par at one stage, but slipped back into the pack over the tough finishing holes.

"To be honest, coming back in at one over was a really good effort," the Dane said. "There was so much crosswind on the front nine. I hit some good shots that just didn't keep the greens at all.

"I got the most out of it today and that's really pleasing and I didn't really feel that I did that yesterday."

Wood's 69 to go with his opening one under effort of 70 was made on the back nine. He was level par with two birdies and two bogeys on the front nine but picked up two more birdies at 12 and 13 to get to three under.

Cabrera-Bello birdied two of the final three holes to record a three-under 68 yesterday.

Wiesberger had an even better finish, with birdie, birdie, eagle for a round of 67.

The player who limits his mistakes is the one most likely to triumph tomorrow evening and Kjeldsen says he has to keep bearing that in mind.

"I'm going to try to keep this really under control over the next two days," he said.

"It's been really challenging these two days but I've absolutely loved it. I've had a great time out there so I'm just looking forward to the weekend."

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