Danny Willett admitted winning his first Dubai Desert Classic felt “extra special” as he had to make one last pressure-packed putt on the 72nd hole of the tournament to edge ahead of his rivals.
Willett made no mistake in sending the 15-feet effort into the centre of the cup and while heaving a sigh of relief on securing his fourth European Tour title, the 28-year-old Briton said there was no better way to win a golf tournament.
“It is the best way to win. You’d love to win by five or six every time you win, but when you win in that fashion, it does feel that little bit extra special. When the pressure is on, being able to produce the goods is special, I guess,” said Willett.
“It’s obviously a relatively daunting last hole. We needed to make a four or a five to win. So just delighted with how I dug in and obviously found it.
“I am just ecstatic. What it’s like coming down the back nine, or the back three, in contention of a golf tournament, you really can’t buy that feeling. You’ve got to earn it.”
Willett had finished second to Rory McIlroy in the Race to Dubai last year after a battle that stretched into the last round of the season. This win, in a field that featured McIlroy, will help him go for another tilt at the title held by the world No. 2, that of being the European No. 1 player for winning the Race to Dubai.
“I think any year where you can be in and around the top-10 all year and give yourself a chance come the Final Series to win the Order of Merit, is brilliant,” added Willett. “It’s still early days to talk about the Race to Dubai. But yeah, we’ve certainly put ourselves nicely up there to fight for the top again.
“I think once you get that feel of how it was last year and how it felt to be in and around it that whole week in Dubai and how it felt to not pull it off…yeah, it would be good.”
Last year in November, Gary Player turned 80. But if you are expecting him to be slow down any soon, perish the thought.
The nine-time major champion from South Africa revealed during an interaction with the media that he is already making his plans for the next 20 years.
In his own inimitable style, Player said: “I’m thinking to myself right now, I’m 80, what do I do for the next 20 years. I’m not saying, am I going to die at 85, am I going to die at 86? Hell… I beat most guys at 40 in the gym at 80, so why should I think about dying?
“I could have an accident or get a disease, but I’m thinking, I’m planning; I’m making my plans for the next 20 years, designing golf courses, raising $100 million for underprivileged people in the world, representing a lot of companies now…I make more money today as an 80-year-old than I made when I was in my prime!
“I have many desires still at 80 years of age, when most people are sitting on their fat bums and dying.”
Rory and Super Bowl
While Sunday did not go as per plans for Rory McIlroy, he was hoping to be able to catch up on Super Bowl 50 while 38,000 feet in the air and see his good friend Peyton Manning lead Denver Broncos to a win.
Asked if he was planning to watch the Super Bowl and which team he’d be backing, McIlroy said: “I will be flying back to the States when the Super Bowl gets underway, but we’ll have live TV so I will get to see coverage.
“I am a big fan of both the Denver Broncos and the Carolina Panthers but then I would love to see the Broncos win, if only for Peyton Manning to go out of the game on top.
“That would be awesome if that happened.”
The Englishman battled hard to hold on to his lead on Sunday and got his reward with a final green, one shot win at the Emirates Golf Club.
Wilett was finally caught up by the unrelenting chasing pack of Andy Sullivan and Spain’s Rafael Cabrera-Bello on the 18th hole.
But the world number 20 stepped up and made a pressure-packed 15-feet birdie putt to win his fourth European Tour title.