Tyrrell Hatton’s impressive victory at the BMW PGA Championship was the realisation of a childhood dream that started when he was just five-years-old.
When Tyrrell Hatton opened his phone on Sunday morning, he was welcomed by a message from his mother that showed the image of his five-year-old self, smiling proudly in front of Wentworth’s 18th green.
It was the year that Constantino Rocca lifted the trophy in 1996, and became the first of many trips Hatton would take to the BMW PGA Championship with his father.
“My dad used to bring me up here,” Hatton said.
“So it's like one of my sort of favourite things to do when I was a kid, so yeah, that's what makes this week so special, really.”
The yearly tradition, which includes his earliest memory of Vijay Singh nearly hitting him by the 18th, also fuelled the beginnings of one particular career goal – to one day become the BMW PGA Champion.
Speaking in 2017, Hatton admitted that of every event on the European Tour calendar, this tournament was the one he most wanted to win.
“If I could choose any event to win, it would be probably this one, just because of how much it means to me,” he said.
Hatton inched a step closer in 2014 when he made the progression from fan to competitor during his debut in the tournament as a professional, and finished the week on level par in a tie for 38th place.
That was the first of six previous starts – the best a tie for seventh during the 2016 edition.
But this year there was a sense of something different: A change of date, a spectator-less event, and Hatton himself in a hoodie that caused plenty of reaction.
Yet it was his golf that did the talking on a week that signified something of a homecoming for Hatton, marking his first start in a regular European Tour event this year following an extended period of time in the United States due to the knock-on effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
It was also his first return to Wentworth since undergoing wrist surgery at the end of 2019, which came soon after a dramatic second Rolex Series victory at the 2019 Turkish Airlines Open, where he triumphed in a six-man play-off.
For Hatton, teeing up at this week’s Rolex Series event at Wentworth was the perfect place to make his return – as somewhere he described as feeling like his home course.
“I just feel pretty comfortable out on the golf course,” Hatton said following a first round six under 66, his lowest round of the week.
“I've been around it so many times now, so kind of almost has that home course feel and you just feel like you know it so well.”
Receiving the picture simply reinforced the meaning of this tournament to him, as well as providing a piece of added motivation as he moved into the final day with a three-shot lead following further rounds of 65 and 67.
“It was a pretty cool picture for mum to send me this morning,” Hatton said. “I guess a little bit of added motivation, because it was obviously a dream back then.
“For me, starting today, I was actually more nervous than I was at the Ryder Cup, I think just for what this tournament means to me.”
It seemed only fitting that Sunday’s triumph came just a few hours later following a final round 65, and his smile on the 18th this year - a picture-perfect realisation of a 24-year-old childhood dream.
“This is the flagship event for the European Tour, it’s got such history, and to add my name to the list of winners is very special and it’s a dream come true for me.
“From walking the course as a five-year-old and hoping one day I’d be inside the ropes, to now holding this trophy is an amazing feeling.”