Tyrrell Hatton fired a brilliant birdie at the last to win the 2017 Italian Open and secure back-to-back European Tour titles. It had looked like the tournament would be decided by a play-off, with clubhouse leaders Ross Fisher and Kiradech Aphibarnrat alongside Hatton on 20 under par as he stood at the 18th tee. But the 26 year old coolly rolled in his birdie putt from around 15 feet at the last to get to 21 under and clinch the trophy.
Fisher, who was also pipped to the post by Hatton in Scotland last week, and Aphibarnrat had to settle for a share of second place, while overnight leader Matt Wallace finished alone in fourth on 19 under courtesy of a brilliant chip-in birdie at the 17th.
Hatton began the day in a tie for second, two shots behind Wallace, but found himself four shots off the lead at the turn after making just one birdie on the front nine.
The Englishman caught fire on the back nine, reeling off four straight birdies from the 12th to catapult himself into contention. After making pars at the 16th and 17th, Hatton knew he would have to do something special at the last to avoid a play-off. And he obliged, holing his tricky putt in front of huge crowds at the 18th to win his third European Tour title.
Hatton said: “It’s amazing to win one but to win back-to-back and defend in two weeks is unbelievable. I knew I needed a low score today, and the front nine was pretty slow and I didn’t really get any momentum. I was fighting myself, trying to stay patient and J.B, my caddie, was saying ‘good things will come’.
“The end goal is to get as high as possible up the world rankings. Obviously the last two weeks have helped a lot. To win a Rolex Series event is very special. I’m just happy that I could win one of them after a poor showing in them during the summer.”
After setting the course record at St Andrews with an 11-under-par 61 in the final round of last week’s event, Fisher enjoyed another successful Sunday at Golf Club Milano.
The five-time European Tour winner started the day five shots behind Wallace but closed the gap courtesy of five birdies on his front nine. He began his back nine with another gain at the tenth before picking up a shot at the short 12th to grab a share of the lead.
Fisher missed a birdie chance at the 13th but did not let that affect him, knocking in from six feet at the next to get to 20 under.
Fisher was overtaken at the top by Aphibarnrat after he made birdies at the 11th, 12th and 14th to get to 21 under, but a double bogey at the 16th dropped the Thai player into a tie for second. They faced an anxious wait as Hatton in the final group alongside Wallace – played his last few holes but were left disappointed as he made a birdie at the 18th. ETC/pph