Briton, with dad by his side, prepares for Augusta debut
With a BMW in his driveway and a good track record in management, the 42year-old was to make a decision that was to change his and his family’s life.
Jeff Hatton, a keen golfer, but nowhere near top class, had been giving his son tips on how to play since he was a toddler and now he was an 11-year-old with huge potential. So Hatton switched careers.
He did the courses, took the exams and became a professional golf coach, with Tyrrell as his first student.
The story is unique even on ranges of the major tours, which are much more diverse than many would imagine.
Granted, there have been coaches who have guided their sons to professional glory – the surnames Furyk and Torrance spring most readily to mind – but none who became a coach purely because of their boy’s progress.
“Tyrrell got me into coaching, no doubt about it,” Hatton said.
“I discovered a love of teaching through him. He’s my son but I owe a lot to him.
“His talent and drive have taken us a long way.”
It has taken Jeff into a role he adores – busily working in golf studios with a range of clients – and Tyrrell all the way to the 81st Masters this week.
At 25, Tyrrell is one of the most improved professionals in the game, having risen from world No 121 to No 15 in 12 staggering months.
This will be Hatton’s Augusta debut, but it says plenty for his burgeoning reputation that, out of the record representation of 11 Englishmen in the field, only two (Justin Rose and Paul Casey) are rated by the bookmakers more likely to prevail on Sunday.
But then, in the past two majors – the Open and US PGA – Hatton has finished fifth and 10th.
“Nothing would surprise me with Tyrrell,” Jeff said.
It has not, ever since the boy beat the old man as a six-yearold.
“I was off single figures, going to the range once a week and playing in the monthly medal – I wasn’t bad,” Jeff recalled.
“But I started to notice I enjoyed the whole amateur coaching thing with Tyrrell more than I enjoyed playing myself.
The progression was swift. For both.
“We went to a few different coaches – the local pro, county coach,” Jeff said.
“It was all good stuff but nothing I wasn’t telling him already. I realised I had an eye for a swing, but still when I took the plunge it was a gamble.
“I was in my early forties and had just been made redundant for the third time, which gave me the impetus to think ‘what next’?”
It became obvious to Jeff that Tyrrell could have the full package when he won the Wycombe Heights Junior Masters.
“He got into a playoff against an older boy,” Jeff said.
“Well, about 30 to 40 people came out to watch and he loved it, you could see. And I thought, ‘Hang on, that’s unusual’. The bigger the crowd, the better he played.
“He hit his eight-iron from 100 yards to two feet and revelled in all the cheers. They gave him a little green jacket and he was hooked.”
As was the father. The swing was nurtured over time, although it has not been changed for 10 years.
“Keep it simple,” has been very much the mantra.
“Colin Montgomerie was his role model and his swing was very simple but beautifully effective,” Jeff said.
“Tyrrell does not over-practice and, of course, neither did Monty.”
“I also think Monty’s influence has a lot to do with how Tyrrell is on the course. If he hit a bad shot he would let you know it and was very intense.
“But off the course, he was a nice friendly guy. Tyrrell is very much like that, although he wouldn’t bellow at anyone else. Just himself.
“His bounce-back rate is exceptionally high. An awful lot is made of his temperament by certain commentators and it is frustrating.
“There were some shocking comments made a few years ago and it seems to have stemmed from then. I like passion in sport. Without it, sport would be boring.”
“It’s funny, the Masters was the one which we watched above all others, and now he’s going to be there – and so am I,” Jeff said.
“It would be great to see Tyrrell win another green jacket, this time the full-sized one.”