Tyrrell Hatton: The angry golfer looking to keep his head again at the Arnold Palmer Invitational

The Englishman discusses his Bay Hill title defence, The Masters, anger management classes and his “surreal” position in the world rankings

Tyrrell Hatton will break new ground in Orlando this week.

For the first time in his career, the Englishman will be announced onto the first tee of a PGA TOUR event as the defending champion.

Hatton earned that honour after scoring a gutsy win at last year's Arnold Palmer Invitational, his tally of 4-under enough to beat a world-class field at Bay Hill.

Orlando is now his American base so, despite his new status this week, there will be plenty of familiarity too.

He's certainly regarded as one of the favourites for victory. Hatton is 16/1 with Paddy Power to lift the trophy again and, as the World No.6 and highest-ranked player in the field, it's easy to argue he should be shorter.

While the 29-year-old is famed for having a fiery temper on the course, he's shown a refreshing ability to laugh at his own foibles.

Hatton is good value; his feet are on the ground. And that comes across when he talked to the press on Wednesday ahead of his defence at Bay Hill.

On returning to Bay Hill, the scene of his breakthrough win in America

"It's obviously special to be back here. Yeah, the world's changed quite a bit in the last year since my win here. But obviously it's still fond memories and it's always going to be a special place for me. I played the back nine yesterday morning and it was kind of nice just being out on the course again. Although living in Orlando, I hadn't been back since the tournament last year. So, yeah, just nice to be back and kind of get familiar with the course again."

On winning with 4-under in ultra-tough conditions last year and how the course may play this time

"Obviously, it was absolutely brutal over the weekend. I remember I think I shot 3-over, over the weekend, which is almost unheard of to then be holding the trophy on Sunday evening. Obviously we have had a lot of rain last night. It will be interesting to see how the course is going to play from tomorrow. I haven't really seen what the forecast is like, but if it's not too windy, the course is obviously going to play quite a bit softer now. I imagine scoring will be fairly low. I think it's normally been, what was it, around mid-teens anyway as a winning score. So, yeah, we'll kind of see what the weather does and obviously give it our best."

On his fondest memory from last year's victory

"Probably the 7-iron I ended up hitting into 18. Such, the amount of pressure that was on that shot and to kind of pull it off and to give myself what was probably the scariest 20-foot putt I've had in my life, it was, yeah, that was a great moment."

On the significance of last year's win

"It was a huge moment for me in my career. Winning for the first time on the PGA TOUR at such an iconic venue is extremely special. I think, although we did have, unfortunately, a long break not long after the tournament last year, I guess I kind of kept that run going and ended up having a brilliant year. So obviously very thankful for that and hoping I can kind of put up a good defense this week."

On the upcoming Masters at Augusta National and trying to win a Green Jacket

"I think I need to figure out how to putt at Augusta, if that is ever going to be happen, to be honest. Normally putting is a strong point for me and I've never putted well there, sadly. So obviously hoping that changes this year. But there's a lot of golf to be played between now and then."

Hatton has always struggled at Augusta National
Hatton has always struggled at Augusta National

The Ryder Cup star has posted a top-10 finish at each of the other three Majors but his record at Augusta National is poor: MC-T44-T56-MC. Hatton is 28/1 with Paddy Power to win next month's Masters.

On the response to his performance in the European Tour's brilliant 'anger management classes' video

"(Laughing) it's gone down very well. I mean, it's a pretty funny piece. I know that there's a video coming out today that is almost a bit of a follow-on from that (bloopers and outtakes). So, yeah, you guys will have to keep your eyes peeled. I think it's, at some point this afternoon U.K. time it will get posted. So I've seen it this morning and it's pretty funny and I'm sure everyone's going to enjoy watching it."

On whether he now walks taller onto the range after winning four big events in the last 17 months

"Standing at 5'8" I wish I could walk onto the range a little taller. (Laughing) but sadly that's out of my control. But, no, I mean, I feel confident when I go to a tournament if I know that my swing's in a good place and I can kind of, if I manage my emotions well throughout the week then, sure, I'll give myself a chance.

"I felt last week that I was, I didn't feel like I was swinging it that good and I was getting a bit frustrated and my golf got a little bit better each day (he finished T22 at the WGC-Workday Championship). I actually played really good on Sunday, even though I shot, I think it was 3-under. So I take confidence from that, that my swing kind of feels like it's getting into a good place again and I guess we'll see exactly tomorrow how it is, and like I said, hoping that I can kind of get off to a good start."

On being the top-ranked player in the field this week

Hatton with the trophy after winning last year
Hatton with the trophy after winning last year

"It is surreal, really. But it doesn't really play any relevance in how the tournament's going to go. It's not very often that the top three guys ranked in the field finish one, two, three. So there's a lot of fantastic players here this week and that's the beauty about professional golf. Anyone playing the tournament has a chance to win. So you've got to play very good to even have a chance and, yeah, hoping that I'll be able to do that."

On the European Tour staging events in Florida after The Masters because to complications over travel due to COVID

"I had heard a rumour of it. I think it's pretty tough, obviously for the European Tour at the moment where there's just some countries that you can't get into and the guys need events to play in. I think if that is a possibility for them to come over here to the States and do something here, then playing opportunities for guys is pretty important. So I think it would be a good thing.

"In terms of courses where they could play, well, I mean there's a lot of good courses in Florida. I'm sure the weather will be a little bit different to what guys have been used to in Europe at the moment, but I'm sure that they will choose three good venues, if that is actually an option."

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