Danny Willett attributes Masters win to fate

Phil Casey 11/04/2016
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Special day: Danny Willett.

Danny Willett felt fate might have played a part in his remarkable victory at Augusta National after an extraordinary final round of the 80th Masters.

Willett’s wife Nicole had been due to give birth to the couple’s first child on Sunday, but Zachariah James Willett arrived early to allow his proud new father to play in the year’s first major.

The 28-year-old was the 89th and last player to register after only arriving at Augusta on Monday, but took advantage of a dramatic collapse from defending champion Jordan Spieth, who presented Willett with the famous green jacket.

“On this rare occasion I’m nearly speechless,” Willett said at the presentation ceremony. “It’s been a fantastic week on and off the golf course.

“My wife gave birth last Tuesday which allowed me to come here and it’s been one of those crazy weeks where things seem to go your way. The 80th Masters is always going to be special and dear to my heart.

“My wife was born 28 years ago (on Monday) and my son was due today and he came early to let me come and play. You talk about fate and everything that comes with it…. it’s been crazy.

“People were saying ‘Try to bring the green jacket home for the little man’. It’s a bit big but I am sure he will grow into it.”

Spieth had birdied four holes in a row from the sixth to reach the turn with a five-shot lead and seemingly guarantee he would join Jack Nicklaus, Nick Faldo and Tiger Woods in winning back-to-back Masters titles.

However, the world number two – who had led for seven rounds in succession following his wire-to-wire victory last year – then dropped shots at the 10th and 11th and ran up a quadruple-bogey seven on the 12th after hitting two balls into Rae’s Creek in front of the green.

Playing three groups ahead, Willett had birdied the 13th and 14th to reach the top of the leaderboard and another on the 16th helped complete a superb 67.

And although Spieth kept his hopes alive with birdies on the 13th and 15th, a bogey on the 17th meant Willett could celebrate becoming the first English winner since Faldo in 1996 and the first European since 1999.

“You can’t really describe the emotions and feelings,” added Willett, who finished three ahead of playing partner Lee Westwood and Spieth. “We all try to play good golf and someone has to win and fortunately today it was my day.

“Every time we seemed to make ground, Jordan kept pulling ahead. We kept trying to dig in. I thought we had to get to seven under and we looked up and Jordan was already seven. It was a very surreal day when you look back at the ebbs and flows.”

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The Masters: Top 10

Sport360 staff 11/04/2016
Masters champion: Danny Willett.

As Danny Willett claims his first major title at the 2016 Masters Tournament, Sport360 run through the Top 10 after a dramatic end to proceedings at Augusta.

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McIlroy admits the pressure of grand slam affected his Masters

Phil Casey 11/04/2016
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Tough weekend: Rory McIlroy.

Rory McIlroy admitted he felt the pressure of trying to complete the career grand slam after a disappointing weekend at Augusta National.

McIlroy went into the third round of the Masters just a shot behind defending champion Jordan Spieth, but struggled to a 77 to fall five shots adrift, a deficit he never threatened to make up on Sunday.

“I was in a great position going into the weekend and I just didn’t play the golf I needed to when it really mattered,” McIlroy said after a closing 71 featuring seven birdies and six bogeys. “That’s the thing that I take away not just from this week, but from previous Masters.

“I’ve been in position before and I haven’t got the job done when I needed to and I don’t think that’s anything to do with my game, I think that’s more me mentally – I’m trying to deal with the pressure of it and the thrill of the achievement if it were to happen. I think that’s the thing that’s really holding me back.

“The more times I can get in position to win this tournament, the more times I’ll learn and I’ll know what not to do. And I feel like I learned a lot yesterday reflecting on it and that’s something that hopefully I’ll do things differently.

“This is the one that I haven’t won and this is the one I want to win more than anything else. I won a Claret Jug, I want to win more. I won a Wanamaker (Trophy), I won the US Open, but this is the one that I haven’t.

“Once I overcome that mental hurdle that I’m struggling with at the minute, then I know how to play this course. I’ve played this course very well before and I can string good rounds together here, but it’s just a matter of doing it.”

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