The Alfred Dunhill Links Championship, conceived as a celebration of links golf, is played over three of the world's best known and respected links courses - the Old Course at St Andrews, Carnoustie and Kingsbarns.
He showed his class at the first hole on Sunday where, having landed in the Swilcan Burn with his second shot, he conjured an exquisite chip in for par. The tournament, played across three different courses at St Andrews, Carnoustie and Kingsbarns, is a great test. Hatton broke his duck there a year ago and retained his crown by three shots.
Hatton, who became the first man to successfully defend the Alfred Dunhill crown, took a share of the previous course record of 62 when winning the tournament past year.
Birdies abounded in a sprint to the finish at the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship.
Stone did three-putt both 17 (for par) and 18 (for birdie) from off the green, albeit a good 60-feet in both instances, but he feels his game is peaking just at the right time ahead of Italy this week and then, following a week off, China, Turkey, the Nedbank Golf Challenge and Dubai as the 2017 European Tour draws to a close.
Hatton didn't feel Fisher's galloping footsteps behind him until he was nearly home, and it stiffened his resolve for the final two holes. "It felt so much harder than previous year, maybe that's just a bit more pressure on myself but I'm so happy that I managed to defend it and what a great week again".
"I'm not going to leave any stone unturned and do everything I can to get back to the best player in the world". "I think the format is helping me, playing with Jamie (Dornan) we have good fun out there and it sort of keeps me relaxed which is what I need to do".More news: Richard Thaler wins Nobel prize for economics
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"Fact is, more golf courses have closed in the USA in each of the last 10 years than have opened", said the 18-time major victor.
"What a great round of golf from Fish, it's incredible", Hatton told the European Tour.
"Made myself very hard to catch, hopefully I can do that again tomorrow".
English trio Oliver Fisher, Eddie Pepperell and Luke Donald joined Dunne and Alexander Levy on 13 under, while McIlroy mixed two birdies with two bogeys to end the week in a share of 63rd spot.
McIlroy will now take three months off before returning to competition in mid-January.
Low scores were the order of the day as earlier Victor Dubuisson opened with a 29 on the front side and was also in the midst of a 59 watch, only to bogey the 16th hole and "settle" for a 63.
Fisher said: "I felt like there was a good one in me today because there wasn't much breeze".