Tyrrell Hatton admitted play was slow. But he believed a pair of fellow pros could have waited longer.
“It’s not the right thing to do,” Hatton said.
His frustration stemmed from consecutive tee shots by the group behind him during Friday’s play at the WGC-Match Play. On the drivable, 291-yard, par-4 13th at Austin Country Club, both Si Woo Kim and Christiaan Bezuidenhout sent golf balls toward the green as Hatton and opponent Daniel Berger putted — Kim’s ball went toward the grandstands to the right, and Bezuidenhout then followed with a ball that fell into the water left and short of the green.
On Bezuidenhout’s tee shot, Hatton said he told Berger to back off his putt. The players and their caddies then looked toward the tee box behind them, with all but Hatton raising his arms.
“They shouldn’t have been hitting,” said Hatton, the only player among himself, Berger, Kim and Bezuidenhout to talk to reporters afterward.
Earlier in the round, Hatton and Berger were delayed twice, and Hatton wondered whether that played a part in the tee shots. On the par-4 9th, Hatton and Berger debated where Hatton should take a penalty drop, and on the par-5 12th, each player hit into the water.
“We had had our troubles down 9, where we were trying to figure out where my ball crossed the hazard,” Hatton said. “And so we were there for a really long time, and then obviously we didn’t play the 12th that fast either. So I imagine it was a pretty slow round for the guys just behind us. I don’t know if that was some frustration in there where they just were fed up waiting and thought that they should hit, which I sympathize the fact that it was slow for them, and I’ve, yeah, you don’t want it to be slow for the group behind and you want to keep moving.
“It felt like a long morning for everyone. But I still don’t think that you should be hitting up when it’s clearly a reachable par-4. Obviously Christiaan just pulled his a little bit, but it didn’t cover. But Si Woo hits it further than him, and, yeah, I mean, I don’t think it was great of them to hit up while we were there.”
On the next hole, the 14th, Hatton said he apologized to Berger for pulling him off his putt.
“I said to Daniel on the next hole, it’s like, I’m really sorry if I put you off there, but obviously I didn’t want you to hit when I can clearly see that the group behind are playing up,” Hatton said. “So there was no issues there from Daniel and he was like, no, you did the right thing.”