Augusta National? Unfair. Southern Hills? Bobbly.
Make that two for two for Tyrrell Hatton in his assessments of major championship courses this year. Watch out, The Country Club (U.S. Open) and St. Andrews (Open Championship). He’s on the grand slam watch.
The Englishman’s latest fire came after Friday’s second round of the PGA Championship. Winds reaching upward of 40 mph in Tulsa, Okla., had forced the grounds crew not to mow the Southern Hills greens — the thought being that a little extra grass would offer some defense against the gusts — but by the time Hatton reached them in the afternoon, the surfaces had become, in his words, “pretty bobbly.”
In his post-round press conference, Hatton’s first two answers referenced putting. A reporter then asked: “They didn’t cut greens today. Just wondered, they may have got a little slower in the afternoon. Did you feel that was an advantage or disadvantage or any kind of effect on you?”
“I wouldn’t say it’s an advantage,” Hatton said. “I mean, we’re playing a major championship, not a monthly medal. You know, they’re bobbling all over the place. It’s so hard to hole putts. So you can hit a great putt, and they just don’t look like going in, which is hard to accept when we’re playing in a major championship.
“From my point of view, obviously I hope that the greens are nicer over the weekend. But saying that, I still need to be able to hit decent shots to give myself opportunities to make birdies, so just see where that takes us.”
Hatton was then asked if he understood why the greens weren’t cut, and if he was “OK with that.”
Perhaps ironically, he was.
“Yeah, that totally makes sense with the winds that they had this morning,” Hatton said. “It was pretty brutal with the gusts that they had coming through at the times, and the greens, they’ve got some decent slopes on them, so they can’t make them quick otherwise it’s just — one, it will slow the rounds down even more, and two, pretty much make it unplayable.”
So, in a nutshell, Southern Hills was damned if they did. And damned if they didn’t. Tough scene. Anyway, Hatton’s putting stats supported his frustration. During Friday’s second round, where he shot a two-under 68, he was 97th in the field in Strokes Gained: Putting, at -0.525. Over his final three holes, Hatton three-putted from 64 feet on 16, missed an 8-footer on 17, and missed a 5-footer on 18.
Notably, Hatton wasn’t alone in his critique.
“They’re definitely slower,” said Brooks Koepka, who shot a three-under 67 — and was ninth in SG: Putting. “You figure — they can’t get that fast anyway just because they’re pretty slopey, but I don’t think these green surfaces are the smoothest to begin with.”
Back to Augusta National.
It was there, during the Masters, where Hatton opened with an even-par 72 — then went 73, 79 and 80. Never shy to express himself to begin with, he found a culprit for the stumble when it was all over with.
“You can hit good shots here and not get any reward for it. It’s unfair at times,” Hatton said. “I don’t agree with that. If you hit a good shot, you should end up near the hole — not short-sided into a bunker because of the slopes that they’ve created and stuff. Yeah, I don’t think it’s a fair test at times, and when you hit good shots and you’re not rewarded for it, it shows.”
“It’s not even trying to build on anything for next week. I’m just trying to ideally get off the golf course as fast as possible.”
Hatton is also not alone in his feelings here, either. GOLF’s Alan Bastable wrote back in April that Lee Trevino, Tom Weiskopf and even Fuzzy Zoeller, who won the tournament in 1979, once filed similar complaints, with Zoeller saying: “I get angry. When I hit a good shot, I like to be semi-rewarded.”
“I think it’s how the course is set up in general,” Hatton also said at this year’s Masters. “You don’t really have to miss a shot, and your next one you’ll have — you’re really struggling to make par.
“With how it runs off the greens here and the slopes that you are then chipping into and how obviously it’s cut, it just makes it really hard to even get chip shots close. I think everything is exaggerated here.”
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