25 Jan 2021 | Professional golf |

Scriv heroics hit pay dirt

by Mark Hayes

Jason Scrivener can't hide his smile after chipping in for birdie on the 16th hole in Abu Dhabi.
Jason Scrivener can't hide his smile after chipping in for birdie on the 16th hole in Abu Dhabi.

Two hours of power have propelled Australian Jason Scrivener to the biggest result of his burgeoning career.

Scrivener, 31, and the rest of the world-class field in the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship had to defer to white-hot champion Tyrell Hatton.

But the classy West Australian found reward for months of hard off-season work with a stunning back-nine 29 to finish second in the European Tour’s season-opener.

The sweet-swinging right-hander will move to a career-high estimated No.115 in the world rankings after he shared the day’s best round of six-under-par 66.

“I was in my own little world,” Scrivener said after he finished at 14 under, one clear of former world No.1 Rory McIlroy in third place.

“I got off to a good start, but then made a few soft bogeys (late in the front nine).

“But (Perth-based caddie) Rance (De Grussa) and I were just plodding away… and then kind of stuck with it and had 29 on the back and it was nice.”

Scrivener, the 2007 Australian Junior champion, won the 2017 New South Wales Open, but is yet to win professionally overseas despite a rash of top-10 finishes in the past five years.

But De Grussa said he’d never seen his mate work so hard since his season finished in November with just Christmas Day off in the interim, including working with mind coach Dave Alred, the man behind another former world No.1 Luke Donald and English rugby great Jonny Wilkinson.

“He’s been a game-changer for me,” Scrivener said of Allred.

“We sat down two months before Christmas and he’s really helped me a lot and pushed me to work that bit harder.”

That paid off to the tune of almost $1.14million for “Scriv”, who kick-started his run with an eagle on the par-five 10th hole.

He then made regulation birdies on 12, 14 and 15 before chipping in from greenside rough on 16 to pull clear of McIlroy and a field also containing other world top-20 players including Justin Thomas and Tommy Fleetwood.

Another birdie to close his round was icing on the cake for Scrivener, who was then left to wait as Hatton surged to victory.

The Englishman tied Jon Rahm with his fourth Rolex Series – the European Tour’s peak series – event victory; incredibly it’s his fourth win globally in his past 20 starts and he moves provisionally to #5 in the world, depending on Patrick Cantlay’s result later today on the PGA Tour.

“It’s surreal, to be honest,” Hatton said.

“To add my name on that trophy with so many great champions before me is a huge honour.”

Hatton, paired with McIlroy, said his “big moment” came on the 10th hole when the Northern Irishman had an eagle putt from closer than his own birdie try.

“That putt was going eight foot past and it just hit the hole and that was huge,” he said.

After McIlroy matched his birdie, Hatton’s tee shot on the next hole hit the fairway bunker wall and popped out to safety before McIlroy made bogey and gave him breathing space that he converted with two more birdies to seal his four-shot triumph.

South Australian Wade Ormsby played his fourth consecutive sub-par round to also bank a big cheque with his eight-under total good for a share of 12th.

Victorian Lucas Herbert faded with a 73 to share 25th at five under, while Queenslander Scott Hend closed with a 72 to finish T57 at one over.

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