Arnold Palmer Invitational: Jordan Spieth impressed with Tyrrell Hatton’s desire and determination

Jordan Spieth revealed that he sees similarities between himself and Arnold Palmer Invitational defending champion Tyrrell Hatton ahead of his debut at Bay Hill this week.

The steely determination, confidence and competitiveness that helped Hatton break into the world’s top five have not escaped Spieth, who is renowned for possessing the same character attributes that have resurfaced in recent weeks.

Spieth dropped to 92nd in the world rankings after he missed the cut at the Farmers Insurance Open, but consecutive top-four finishes and a tie for 15th at Riviera Country Club have galvanised the three-time major champion.

The resurgent former world No 1 remains without a victory since The Open in 2017, but he hopes his renewed confidence will end that drought in the manner that Hatton secured his maiden PGA Tour title in brutal conditions in Orlando last year,

“I think I actually see like similarities to me, when I feel like I’m playing well,” said Spieth of Hatton. “It’s not going to be the longest, it’s not going to be like the prettiest, necessarily, way to do it, but the guy’s going to compete and he’s going to get the ball in the hole faster than the other people and that’s really the job.

“He’s a very good driver of the golf ball, and every part of his game is solid. I don’t know his game extremely well, but he’s obviously able to win just about anywhere in the world and he’s proven that now.

“But he’s just a competitor. I mean, it’s hard to kind of, that just comes naturally to people and he’s one of those guys that possesses that kind of, that inner confidence and that competitiveness that, if things get a little off, he’s going to save par. But when things are on, he’s going to continue to ride that momentum.

“And I think just the fact that the overall state of his game, he does everything well and when he’s doing something really well, he’s in contention or wins. He’s someone that you can tell wants it really badly out there.

“I wouldn’t consider our personalities to be matching, but in that way, in how bad you want it when you’re out there, regardless if there’s a microphone or a camera on you, I’m going to fist pump when it’s a big putt, I’m just really involved in the round and it’s just, I guess, kind of just having your personality for sure.”

Hatton’s victory at Bay Hill last year was the last time a capacity crowd attended the final round of a professional golf tournament, as the coronavirus pandemic forced worldwide sport to halt the following week, just one round into The Players Championship.

The PGA Tour have limited attendance to 25 percent capacity this year, and the Englishman was struggling to remember the atmosphere from 12 months ago.

“I think it’s kind of hard to remember the cheers, really,” he said. “We played a lot of golf since then with obviously no fans. But like I said, it will be nice having a limited number of fans out there again, just to kind of give a bit more of an atmosphere and hopefully I can do something worth cheering about.”

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With none of the world’s top five in action this week, No 6 Hatton is the top-ranked player in the field, a first for him on the PGA Tour and a feeling he described as “surreal”.

“It doesn’t really play any relevance in how the tournament’s going to go,” Hatton added. “It’s not very often that the top three guys ranked in the field finish, one, two, three.

“So there’s a lot of fantastic players here this week and that’s the beauty about professional golf. Anyone playing the tournament has a chance to win. So you’ve got to play very good to even have a chance and, yeah, hoping that I’ll be able to do that.

“I feel confident when I go to a tournament if I know that my swing’s in a good place and I can kind of, if I manage my emotions well throughout the week then, sure, I’ll give myself a chance.

“Last week, I didn’t feel like I was swinging it that good and I was getting a bit frustrated and my golf got a little bit better each day. I actually played really good on Sunday, even though I shot three under.

“So I take confidence from that, that my swing kind of feels like it’s getting into a good place again and I guess we’ll see exactly tomorrow how it is, and like I said, hoping that I can kind of get off to a good start.”

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