Tyrrell Hatton stole the show as the European Tour got back up and running for 2021.
The Englishman played some immense golf to win the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship by four strokes.
I spoke to his Scottish caddie Mick Donaghy after the event and he believes that Tyrrell has grown into the complete player.
— Tyrrell Hatton (@TyrrellHatton) January 24, 2021
It is no fluke to reach fifth in the world rankings.
Even down the stretch on Sunday, he displayed no signs of any nerves.
To finish the week with a six-under-par 66 was very impressive. He drives the ball well, he has a good short game and he is a fine putter.
Some people questioned his temperament in the past, but he seems to be very relaxed and composed on the golf course now.
I’m sure Padraig Harrington, the European Ryder Cup captain, will be encouraged by Tyrrell’s start to the season.
Tyrrell should feel really proud to have reached such a lofty position in the world rankings. He has now won four Rolex Series events and he would have taken a lot of confidence from his PGA Tour win at the Arnold Palmer Invitational last March.
He already knew he could win in Europe, having won the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship on two occasions, as well as in Italy and Turkey.
But to win in America would have been huge for him and he has really kicked on since that victory at Bay Hill by following it up with success at the BMW PGA Championship in October and on Sunday in Abu Dhabi.
Rory McIlroy must be wondering what he has to do to win in Abu Dhabi.
— Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship (@ADGolfChamps) January 24, 2021
The Northern Irishman has finished runner-up four times in his 10 appearances and came tied third at the weekend.
He looked like he was playing some brilliant golf and his driving was phenomenal. He didn’t do much wrong, but Tyrrell never looked back after opening up a commanding lead.
The Englishman was part of the European Tour’s latest viral video, which had Tommy Fleetwood hosting a group therapy session for some of the angriest golfers on the European Tour.
The European Tour’s social media team are brilliant and this was another hilarious video. It was great to see the players, such as Tyrrell, Matt Wallace and Eddie Pepperell having a laugh at their own expense.
Season off to a good start in Abu Dhabi
I’m back in Dubai for this week’s Omega Dubai Desert Classic, an event I won in 2013 and 2014.
I was pleased with how I played in Abu Dhabi as it was a tough week with the wind. I played really well in the final round but I left a couple out there. I finished tied 16th, but it could easily have been a top 10, which would have been a brilliant start to the year.
We only have four Rolex Series events this season, so it was pleasing to get off to a good start.
It is nice to come back to Dubai where I have played well in the past and hopefully I can feed on those memories.
But I’m disappointed Marc Warren doesn’t have a place in the field. He finished in the top-five in Abu Dhabi, which would normally be enough for a starting berth in the following week’s event.
Despite having won the Austrian Open last season – a dual ranking European and Challenge Tour event – Marc is fifth reserve and looks set to miss out on a place.
Military duty stops play for Si Woo Kim
On the PGA Tour, South Korean Si Woo Kim claimed his third PGA Tour win with victory at The American Express.
But the 25-year-old has just three years left to complete his military service, which is compulsory for all able-bodied Korean men between the ages of 18 and 28.
— Callaway Golf (@CallawayGolf) January 25, 2021
It can last approximately 18 months, which would be a huge break from playing.
He could be granted an exemption if he wins a medal at the Olympics or gold at the Asian Games.
I played a few times with Noh Seung-yul, who missed the whole of the 2018 season due to military service.
It is a shame for these players as it is a huge sacrifice and it halts their progress at a crucial age, but it is also a part of their culture.
The PGA Tour has a “mandatory obligation” category which means players do not lose their category as a result of having to carry out their military service, so, whenever Si Woo Kim decides to complete his duty, he will hopefully be able to continue where he left off.