Hatton grabs first round lead at CJ Cup

Ruben Hill
October 17, 2020

"But I am just happy I made that par putt on the last", said Schauffele.

Second-ranked Jon Rahm of Spain made the last of his seven birdies from six feet at No. 9 to cap a 67 and is tied for third with Tyler Duncan, the 2020 RSM Classic victor, who birdied two of the last three holes.

Hatton, who won the European Tour's BMW PGA Championship in Surrey on Sunday and turned 29 on Wednesday, is a shot clear of Americans Russell Henley and Xander Schauffele as he guns for his second PGA Tour victory. "Felt pretty exhausted out there". Pace of play slowed down a lot, kind of hot, easy to let the mind wander. Still struggling with jet lag.

Hatton, who tied for sixth in the CJ Cup at Nine Bridges a year ago after tying for 14th in 2018, started on the back nine with birdie-birdie-eagle, holing out from 92 yards on the 12th hole en route to a 6-under 30 for his first nine holes. He rolled in a 25-foot birdie putt at the par-4 14th and sank a five-foot birdie putt at the par-3 17th. A par at 18 closed out a first-nine 30, matching his best nine in any PGA event despite his struggles.

Hatton had no such problems, although he felt the effects of travel. "I concentrated a little more today".

He went on to make the birdie putt and card more birdies on his next five holes thanks to some outstanding putting to sit 14-under 130 halfway through the 78-player event at Shadow Creek, which has no cut.

"It's fair to say I'm pretty exhausted at the moment", Hatton said.

Cameron Smith of Australia holed a seven-foot birdie putt while finishing a 69 at No. 9 and is four down in a tie for ninth with Ian Poulter of England, Abraham Ancer of Mexico, Matthew Fitzpatrick of England and Si Woo Kim of South Korea. "I need to continue that over the next three days".

Starting on the back nine, the 26-year-old American birdied the 11th and then caught fire from the par-three 13th when his tee shot almost found the cup. "Making a three right there was great", Henley said. Some of those holes you're not really trying to birdie them, you're kind of just trying to leave yourself an uphill 35-footer and fortunately I made a couple of them.

"It was nice. I had a chip-in there, two long putts. Obviously I was disappointed with bogeys", he said. "Just learning the par-3s and how the ball reacts on these greens as firm and fast as they are and just getting used to that is the biggest thing".

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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