Tyrrell Hatton said his LIV Golf debut had a feeling of the first day of school, admitting it would ‘take a bit of time’ to find his feet. Two rounds into his rebel career and it appears it’s going to take a lot longer than that for the offseason signee to adjust.
The 32-year-old defected to the breakaway at the death just days before its 2024 season opener at El Camaleon in Mexico. He had previously expressed concerns over the Ryder Cup and eligibility for the majors but he ultimately caved in after a reported $64million offer was slapped on the table.
And this weekend, he followed his Legion XIII captain Jon Rahm into battle for the first time. But while the Spaniard instantly repaid LIV’s mega-money offer, Hatton would have been left wondering if his big gamble was all worth it.
He had claimed that the ‘team spirit’ element of LIV Golf was a main selling point after his Ryder Cup success. He would’ve had a rude awakening this weekend when he realized that Legion XIII wasn’t quite Team Europe.
While he and Rahm had gone from Ryder Cup teammates to Legion XIII team member and captain, they were also joined by 19-year-old Caleb Surratt and qualifier Kieran Vincent. Hardly Rory McIlroy and Viktor Hovland.
Tyrrell Hatton is still finding his feet at LIV Golf after struggling through rounds one and two
Hatton followed his Legion XIII captain Jon Rahm into battle for the first time this weekend
The Englishman and Rahm were joined by Caleb Surratt (L) and qualifier Kieran Vincent (R)
But it was Hatton who struggled to contribute to his team’s score, leaving it until the final hole to sink a birdie that catapulted Legion XIII into second place.
He shot a one-under 71 to claw himself back to even-par for the tournament – still nine shots back of Rahm who put himself into contention for the individual win, closing the gap to leader Joaquin Niemann to four shots.
Unlike in Rome where Hatton and Rahm were a formidable pairing, sharing the limelight with their two match wins together, the Englishman has very much taken the backseat to his captain in Mexico.
During LIV’s 2024 curtain-raiser at Mayakoba, Mexico this week, Hatton has found himself sitting on the fringe of Rahm’s $500million spotlight.
Hatton inked a reported $64m deal to switch sides – just 12.8 percent of Rahm’s mega-money contract and there was no LIV-branded letterman jacket or signing photos with Greg Norman for Hatton.
Rahm headlined Friday’s opener with fans flocked to the first tee box to see him hit the first shot of his LIV career alongside last season’s individual winner Talor Gooch and Cam Smith. Meanwhile, Hatton was off the fourth with Martin Kaymer and Abraham Ancer.
The fanfare around Rahm’s debut Friday overshadowed his teammate’s, allowing Hatton’s opening round of one-over to slip under the radar. The same could be said for Saturday’s second round.
Hatton still hadn’t appeared to have found his feet as his struggles from Friday continued on Day Two.
The Spaniard made a fast start to life with LIV that rewarded the breakaway’s big money move
LIV’s $500million man was given top billing with Greg Norman joining him on the first tee
But the fanfare around Rahm’s debut Friday overshadowed his new teammate’s
Hatton cut it close to make it to the tenth tee for the shotgun start. He arrived last of his group after the mariachi band had performed their pre-round performance on the tee box and way, way after the final warning for players to take their positions. Had one round of LIV already scared him off?
Maybe not quite yet, but the tension was bubbling. He had joked about his temper and affinity for profanities during his introductory press conference and it didn’t take long for it to rear its familiar head with the Englishman bashing his putter on the 12th green after narrowly missing his putt from the fringe.
He saved par and things looked to be looking up when a birdie followed at the next but a flurry of bogeys to finish his opening nine holes crushed his momentum.
Hatton clawed it back to even-par with three birdies on his final nine, including one on the par-four ninth – his last hole – to help contribute to his team’s score alongside Rahm and Surratt, who only turned pro this week.
Yet once again, Hatton felt a little lost down the leaderboard in his captain’s shadow, which seems unfair, given he has arguably gambled more than the Spaniard.
Following his Masters victory last year, Rahm is locked in for all the majors until at least the 2027 season.
By slipping into the Green Jacket he secured a lifetime exemption for Augusta. Meanwhile, he was already eligible to compete in the US Open through 2031 after he won his first major at Torrey Pines in 2021. His Masters victory also earned him five-year exemptions into the PGA Championship and The Open.
After winning the Masters last year, Rahm has a majors security blanket through to 2027
The biggest threat Rahm faces is to his Ryder Cup future. The same can’t be said for Hatton.
Hatton doesn’t have the same security blanket, having not won a major, meaning he must rely on Official World Golf Ranking points, of which, LIV currently has none.
Currently ranked World No. 16, Hatton has already booked his place at Augusta but the road back to the PGA Championship, US Open and the Open remains uncertain.
As it stands, if Hatton, the highest-ranked British player to defect, can remain in the top 50, he’ll also sneak into the remaining three majors. But that’s a big if, and one which only covers this year. Beyond that, Hatton’s risk looks to grow greater and greater as each season ticks by.
Fellow rebel Dustin Johnson slipped out of the top 200 for the first time in his career this week. Bryson DeChambeau has fallen to No. 166 and Phil Mickelson to No. 136.
LIV rebel Dustin Johnson slipped out of the top 200 for the first time in his career this week
Leader Joaquin Niemann shot a 59 on Friday but will not qualify of any of the majors this year
But all three have the protection of being recent major winners that Hatton does not have.
He only has to look to the overnight leader Niemann for a foreshadowing of what is to come.
The Chilean shot a 59 in his opening round Friday – the second lowest in LIV’s history – and protected his position atop the leaderboard Saturday, but currently ranked World No. 66, he won’t make the cut for a single major this year.
Two months out from the Masters, this major season is do or die for Hatton and after gambling away his future, he needs to find his spark.