Hatton hangs on to Dunhill crown as Fisher flirts with 59
Tyrrell Hatton's Old Course fling blossomed into a love affair on Sunday as he survived Ross Fisher's stunning final-round charge to retain the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship.
Fisher seized on an unusually calm October day and a relatively friendly set-up at St Andrews to tear apart the home of golf, going bogey-free and sinking 11 birdies before reaching the intimidating 17th.
The former Ryder Cup player was off the back of the green with his approach shot at the Road Hole but got up and down to make par.
Fisher missed a short birdie putt at the last, but tapped in for par to break the course record with a magnificent 11-under 61 to finish second on 21 under.
It was Hatton who took the title, though, becoming the first man to claim back-to-back Alfred Dunhill Links Championship successes after signing for a six-under 66 to finish on 24 under and a three-shot winning margin.
Hatton's first and, until this weekend, only European Tour title arrived in the same competition 12 months ago.
The Englishman had drawn criticism for his body language and behaviour during a disappointing final round of the British Masters at Close House last week, when he finished tied for eighth place after leading at the halfway mark.
There was no repeat of his demise or the accompanying histrionics this weekend, though.
Hatton took a five-shot lead into Sunday and the 25-year-old might have sensed it would be his day right from the off, as he chipped in to escape with par at the first, having found the water of the Swilken Burn with his approach shot.
That chip-in. pic.twitter.com/NWHe7HQzJC-- The European Tour (@EuropeanTour) 8 October 2017
The narrow escape provided a platform for Hatton to capitalise on the benign conditions and string together four consecutive birdies.
The world number 29's hot streak was broken with a birdie putt that missed by inches at six, but by that point he had extended his advantage over Gregory Bourdy to a handsome seven strokes and he strengthened his position further with birdies at nine and 14.
It was Fisher, rather than Hatton's French playing partner, who mounted the strongest challenge, ultimately falling just short as the leader held his nerve.
Victor Dubuisson also went low, shooting nine under, one more than the course record of 62 he held with five other players before Fisher's efforts on Sunday.
Rory McIlroy, who will now finish his season prematurely to aid his recovery from a rib injury, signed off on 2017 with a even-par 72 to finish four under for the tournament.