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Tyrrell Hatton erases mental fog to lead CJ Cup

Tyrrell Hatton leads 1st round of 2020 CJ Cup at Shadow Creek
Tyrrell Hatton parlays a fast start into a 7-under 65 for the 1st-round lead Thursday in the CJ Cup at Shadow Creek.

Jet-lagged, ailing and just plain ‘grumpy,’ the Englishman carries his winning play across the Atlantic to shoot 65 in Las Vegas

Tired, jet-lagged, fighting a sore throat and, by his own words, “grumpy, agitated and on edge.”

That wouldn’t appear to be the ideal mindset for someone to surge to the top of a PGA Tour leaderboard, but it’s how Tyrrell Hatton described his demeanor Thursday at the CJ Cup at Shadow Creek in Las Vegas.

Hatton shot 7-under 65 for a one-stroke lead in the 78-man, no-cut $9.75 million event (scores). “It’s fair to say I’m pretty tired at the moment,” said Hatton, who had a 20-hour travel day from England, where he won the European Tour's BMW PGA Championship on Sunday, and then had difficulty adjusting to the eight-hour time difference on the U.S. West Coast.

“Still struggling with jet lag," he said. "Today was a long day. Very happy with my score, and I just need to try and get back to the hotel this evening, have a good rest and hopefully sleep better than I did last night and, fingers crossed, for another good day tomorrow.”

If Hatton had been sleepwalking through his round, he couldn’t complain. Starting on the back side at Shadow Creek Golf Course, Hatton birdied Nos. 10 and 11, both par 4s, and then holed out with a wedge from 92 yards for eagle at the par-4 12th. A 4-under start through three holes was quite a wakeup call. He added two more birdies to make the turn in 6-under 30.

With a 3½-foot birdie putt at the par-4 No. 1, Hatton stood 7 under through 10. Bogeys at two of his next five holes were offset by two more birdies on the back nine for a 7-under total and one-stroke lead.

Hatton, who turned 29 on Wednesday, rose to No. 10 in the Official World Golf Ranking on Monday with his victory a day earlier at the BMW PGA. It was his fifth worldwide victory in 11 months, including the Arnold Palmer Invitational in March, just days before the PGA Tour shut down because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Americans Russell Henley and Xander Schauffele shared second place at 6-under 66. Spain’s Jon Rahm, who at No. 2 in the world is the highest-ranked player in a field that features six of the top 10, shot 67 to share fourth place with American Tyler Duncan.

Brooks Koepka, a four-time major champion and former world No. 1, struggled to a 2-over 74 in his return to competition after two months off with an injured left knee.

The weather was typical autumn in Las Vegas, with sunny skies and 90 degrees, so Hatton had no need for the hoodie that he wore during a crisp final round of the BMW PGA at Wentworth in suburban London. He did, however, address his fashion critics who found fault with the hooded attire.

“It’s crazy, the amount of people that obviously don’t agree with it,” he said. “If it looks smart and you’re comfortable to play in it, then I really don’t see what the issue is.”

Any questions, golf traditionalists?

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