Confidence boost sets up Willett to put turbulent year behind him

Joy Chakravarty 21:01 15/11/2016
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Danny Willett.

Obviously, the Masters champion is second in the Race to Dubai going into the final week of the season, and leader Henrik Stenson will also be a huge factor, but Willett is not going to worry about where the Swede, or his compatriot and third-ranked Alex Noren, finish in the $8 million season-ending championship of the European Tour.

Willett has struggled over the last couple of months – a combination of a tiring and relentless schedule and slight swing changes to protect his suspect back – but weekend rounds in the 60s in last week’s Nedbank Golf Challenge considerably brightened his mood and boosted his confidence.

And an upbeat Willett said he was eager to put an end to a “turbulent” year by claiming his first Race to Dubai  title.

“It’s been a very turbulent year,” said Willett. “We’ve had the ultimate of highs and a few real lows the last few months and now here we are.

“We’ve got four rounds of golf  left in what’s been a pretty long season and slightly different situation to last year, but we still need to win the golf tournament to win the Race to Dubai.

“We’re 300,000 points behind Henrik. If we can do what we can control this week and we can win a golf tournament, then nobody can take it away from us.

“It could be an exciting week. I’ve got a little bit more confidence after the last couple of rounds last week. It was nice to finally get a few nice rounds under par and get some good feelings back there and come to a golf course now that doesn’t necessarily suit me 100 per cent as much as it does the other guys.

“But if we can get it in play off the tee then it definitely suits good mid-iron play which is one of our strengths and good putting.”

Willett finds himself in a similar position to 2015 when he arrived at the last event in direct competition with McIlroy, who won the tournament and the No1 crown.

And while he ticked off two of his major golfing ambitions this year – winning a major and playing in the Ryder Cup – Willett wants to put the cherry on the year with a Race to Dubai triumph.

“I’d love to finish first on the Race to Dubai at least once in my life,” he said. “If I were to finish second for the rest of my life, it’s not that you’re playing bad golf, you’ve had a massively consistent year.

“You look at the last few years who the champions are, and you’ve got world No1s, you’ve got fantastic golfers. To be able to do that over the course of a year and to finish above them is amazing.”

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