GUIDONIA MONTECELIO, Italy (AP) — Tyrrell Hatton was preparing to hit the first shot of his practice round at the Ryder Cup on Thursday when a chant came from the grandstand surrounding the first tee.
“Swear in a minute,” they sang, “you’re gonna swear in a minute.”
Hatton stood back off his ball and laughed with the spectators.
With his temper and tantrums, the 31-year-old Englishman has been known to turn the air as blue as Europe’s color on the boards at the Ryder Cup. He can often be seen throwing his arms out and admonishing himself after bad shots, even after some good ones.
Maybe he has met his match on the European team, though.
Jon Rahm, the big burly Spaniard, has quite the temper, too, even if it has mellowed somewhat in recent months since becoming a father and a major champion.
So, Hatton was asked in an exchange with a reporter at the Marco Simone club this week, who would win in a “swear-off” between him and Rahm?
“I’ve got everyone covered when it comes to that,” Hatton said with a grin. “Just any time of day, anywhere.”
No holding back?
“No holding back,” Hatton replied. “Doesn’t matter what we’re doing, I’m swearing.”
Hatton blurted out an expletive just to hammer home the point.
Spectators might get to judge for themselves this week.
Rahm and Hatton will play together in the first match of the morning foursomes on Friday when they take on Scottie Scheffler and Sam Burns of the United States.
It’s the second time Rahm and Hatton have been put together at a Ryder Cup. They were in the Friday afternoon fourballs in 2021 when they claimed a half point from their match against Bryson DeChambeau and Scheffler.
As intense as the Ryder Cup can get, it hasn’t been close since it was decided by the final two matches at Medinah in 2012, with Martin Kaymer making a 6-foot par putt to beat Steve Stricker and assure Europe would capture the cup.
It’s enormous pressure. Think of Hunter Mahan holding back tears when he lost the deciding match in Wales, or Bernhard Langer and that look of utter anguish when he missed a 6-foot putt at Kiawah Island.
Who wants that pressure?
These are among the best 24 players in the world. Of course, they want a chance to deliver in that moment.
How many of them really mean it?
“Very few,” Brooks Koepka said with his usual dose of blunt honesty. He attributed that to “false confidence.”
“Other than the Ryder Cup, I think the most pressure you can feel is in a major,” said Koepka, who has won five of those. “Yeah, guys should believe in themselves, but everybody else has got to be thinking that they don’t. That’s why I think that way.
“You’ve always got to believe you’re the best and want to beat the best and have that drive, and that’s what’s going to put you over the edge,” he said. “I think a lot of guys have it. But I don’t know how many guys would want an 8-footer with this on the line.”
Nicolai Hojgaard, at age 22, is the youngest player at the Ryder Cup and it showed at times in the buildup.
Europe’s players came to the Marco Simone club at the start of September for a team bonding trip and Hojgaard left his putter at home.
On the way back, the entire European squad flew to London because they were playing the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth but the flight was delayed for an hour: Hojgaard had put his passport in his hold luggage.
“He was the last to walk on the plane, and to a standing ovation,” Europe player Justin Rose said. “No better way to feel like a rookie than that.”
Hojgaard, one of Luke Donald’s six captain’s picks, said he is playing alongside his “idols and heroes” this week and could never imagine being on this stage.
“You have to pinch yourself a little bit,” he said, “but it’s reality now.”
Viktor Hovland hit the shot of the week a day too early.
Hovland made a hole-in-one at the par-4 fifth hole in his final practice round. When he heard the cheers from the green, he tossed his driver to the ground and was mobbed by playing partner Matthew Fitzpatrick and vice captain Nicolas Colsaerts.
There’s a catch, though: It was the second ball he hit off the tee.
AP golf: https://apnews.com/hub/golf