The Italian Open had just about all the drama you’d want on an afternoon in Monza.
Things were going quite well for the guy with one of golf’s strangest names — Kiradech Aphibarnrat. The portly Barnrat was rolling along, 21-under par through 15 holes and eyeballing another European Tour victory. He was one in front of Ross Fisher, who was grinding away at the Golf Club Milano. Then there was Tyrrell Hatton, winner two weeks ago at the Dunhill Links.
Hatton pressed the issue with four straight birdies starting at the 12th hole to get within a shot of the chubby leader.
At the 16th, Aphribarnrat hit a perfect drive but pulled his second shot, short-siding himself, a large bunker between him and the flagstick. Off a tight lie, he chunked his third into the bunker. It buried and he could do not better than 20 feet for his fourth. Two putts later he went from leading by one to trailing by one. The Thai star then bounced back in style with a birdie at the difficult 17th and he’d post 20-under to tie Fisher in the clubhouse.
Both were watching the television monitor near the 18th hole as Hatton’s birdie run came to an end after the 15th. It was looking like a three-man playoff was a distinct possibility.
After pars at 16 and 17, Hatton hit a good drive at 18 and his second settled 15 feet from the cup.
With everything on the line, Hatton hit the perfect putt and buried the birdie for a second straight victory, leaving Aphibarnrat to contemplate the double at 16 and Fisher with a second-straight runnerup spot.
Hatton was amazed with himself afterward.
“I knew I needed a low score today, and the front nine was pretty slow and I didn’t really get any momentum,” he said after closing with a 65.
“I was fighting myself, trying to stay patient and J.B, my caddie, was saying ‘good things will come’.
“Although I found it hard to believe, I tried to stay patient. In the end, I guess I got my reward.
“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. They are new for this season and all of the players look forward to playing in them.
“I’m just happy that I could win one of them after a poor showing in them during the summer,” he went on.
Hatton is now ranked 17th in the world and fifth in the Race To Dubai.