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Block: Hatton May Just Shock The World At The Masters

By Benjamin Block
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As a boy growing up in the deprived suburb of High Wycombe, England, situated in the affluent county of Buckinghamshire, all Tyrrell Hatton wanted to be was a professional golfer.

In an op-ed piece last week for UK's Golf News, Hatton wrote, "As far as Masters memories go, having been born in 1991, my first memory is of Tiger holing that chip from off the green at the 16th in 2005."

And now, in less than two weeks, Hatton will add a Masters appearance -- his first -- to a burgeoning career, where he'll have a chance to make his own memories.

But not before a final tune-up at this week's Dell WGC Matchplay in Austin, Texas. A top-25 finish there would be Hatton's fifth in a row at a PGA Tour event.

He then plans to spend a week in Orlando, where he's been renting a house, to prepare for the Masters, which commences April 6.

Currently the 14th best golfer in the world, and already anticipating his first trip to Augusta, Hatton recalled a vivid memory from when he was just a teenager, six years before he turned professional in 2011.

"I was 14 at the time, and dad used to let me stay up and watch the Masters every night. I was glued to the sofa for four days. It's amazing to think that 12 years later, I'm going to be there myself in a few weeks," he wrote.

Tyrrell Hatton
Tyrrell Hatton plays a shot from a bunker on the first hole during the final round of The Honda Classic at PGA National Resort and Spa on Feb. 26, 2017, in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida. (Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)

Greeting him upon his arrival will be a charming 330-yard stretch of Georgia black top known as Magnolia Lane, which welcomes all visiting players, but also collects broken dreams like the cracks in its pavement.

Three-time Masters champion Gary Player once quipped, "The Masters is the only tournament I ever knew where you choke when you drive through the front gate."

In addition to Magnolia Lane, the beautifully torturous contours of the hallowed course cement Augusta National as golf's ultimate paradox.

And predicting the winner of the Masters is a fool's errand. However, Hatton cannot and should not be overlooked as a contender this year.

The Englishman is calling his 12-week stint in the United States an "American Adventure," in which the Masters marks the halfway point.

He narrowly missed capturing his first PGA tour title in three of his last four attempts. He tied for fourth place at the Arnold Palmer Invitational last week, and had the same result at the Honda Classic a month ago. In between those events he recorded a 10th-place finish at the World Golf Championships-Mexico.

Preceding his threatening strides on American soil, Hatton's biggest highlight was his first European Tour win, which occurred at the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship in St Andrews, Scotland in October of 2016.

He called that victory "a dream come true," but Hatton had already emerged as a player that was ready to win. His ties for fifth place at the 2016 Open Championship and 10th at the PGA Championship later in the year were breakout moments for him.

A clear product of his Wycombe upbringing, Hatton is relatable, unfazed and fiery.

With direct knowledge of Hatton's speedy ascent over the past eight months, is Danny Wardrop, director of golf for the Georgia Golf Company, Hatton's representation.

"It's a great ride. Every week he seems to be top 10. Every week," Wardrop claimed, adding, "He's an emotional player. Is that good? Is it bad? To me, it's good. He's getting results."

It's true that fans of Hatton never have to guess what his emotions are. The 25-year-old shows his feelings with the same vibrancy as the tint of the green jacket he'll be chasing at the Masters.

His pilgrimage to Augusta conjured up the memory of the first junior tournament that he ever won — the Wycombe Heights Junior Masters when he was 5 years old.

His prize then was a "little" green jacket.

Drawing upon that irony, Hatton acknowledged, "I hope one day to wear the prestigious green jacket."

Follow Benjamin on Twitter at @benjaminblock21

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