Tyrrell Hatton has described how a PGA Tour official left him ‘raging’ after appearing to show preferential treatment to Phil Mickelson during the final round of the recent WGC-Mexico Championship.
Five-time major winner Mickelson ultimately saw off Justin Thomas at the first extra hole of a play-off to win the event and snap a winless streak stretching back to the 2013 Open Championship.
Playing partner Hatton finished one shot outside the play-off but, speaking on this week’s Sky Sports Golf Podcast, the Englishman lifted the lid on an extraordinary incident towards the end of the final round that disrupted his rhythm.
A rules official approached Mickelson, Hatton and the third member of their three-ball, Shubhankar Sharma, after they had hit their tee shots at the 15th hole. Hatton and Sharma were informed by the official that they were on the clock – but Mickelson was not.
Hatton explained: “Sharma wasn’t that slow, to be honest. He was fine. But I feel like Phil was taking quite a lot of time on certain things. We’d had a warning earlier on in the round to speed up and we kind of did but not massively.
“I’d just birdied 14 to tie with Phil and, you know, you’ve got four holes to go and it’s kind of crunch time. We had all hit good tee shots up 15 when one of the officials charged over and said, ‘Phil, you’re exempt but Tyrrell and Sharma, I’m going to start timing you.’
“Phil goes, ‘Oh, he obviously likes me’. I was raging.
“Danny, my manager, was following us. I walked over to him as I got nearer the ball and I said, ‘Can you believe what this referee’s just done? He’s said that me and Sharma are on the clock.’
“In the circumstances, it was a disgrace. I had just tied with Phil. Do you know what I mean? It’s a big part in the tournament. I was raging. I was so angry.”
Despite his fury, Hatton managed to eagle the 15th to remain in contention for his first WGC win but, on the following hole, had to scramble to make par after seeing the referee timing him in his through-line on the green.
“I could see him looking at his stopwatch,” added Hatton. “I ended up hitting my first putt ten or 12 feet past the hole. I got it wrong. It was a mis-read, but I was rushing because I didn’t want to get a bad time. Luckily, I knocked the par putt in.
“It was quite frustrating. It was the first time I’d been in a situation [to win] at a WGC. I found it slightly off-putting and it’s frustrating that happened.
“I’ve since spoken to a few players about it and they couldn’t believe that the referee did that.