Belfast Telegraph

UK Website Of The Year

Home News UK

Danny Willett set to fly home to UK to celebrate US Masters win with family

Published 11/04/2016

Willett is the first Briton to win the title since Nick Faldo 20 years ago (AP)
Willett is the first Briton to win the title since Nick Faldo 20 years ago (AP)

Golfer Danny Willett will fly home to celebrate with his family on Tuesday after becoming the first Briton to win the US Masters in 20 years.

The 28-year-old from Sheffield has admitted it was "mind-boggling" to win a Masters 12 days after becoming a father for the first time.

The Englishman clinched victory after defending champion Jordan Spieth suffered a collapse in the final round of the tournament in Augusta.

But his triumph cost Sir Alex Ferguson, who told Willett he was "delighted" he had taken the title despite betting £8,000 on Spieth winning.

"You need to know where to put your money!" Willett replied, laughing.

Willett told ITV News that his best message of support had come from wife Nicole, who said she would be proud of him however well he played.

"That's life and luckily for me that's where I am able to go back to every week and that's what it's all about - family and friends not really caring whether you win or you don't win," he said.

Willett came close to not even playing as his wife's due date for their first child was on Sunday, but their son, Zachariah James, was born by Caesarean section a week before the tournament.

The golfer said he was looking forward to "locking the door and throwing the key away for a bit" when he is reunited with them.

His family have spoken of their pride after watching Willett triumph, while one of his brothers became a star in his own right, joking that he had "won Twitter" after his quirky commentary of the game gained attention online.

Peter Willett, a teacher in Birmingham, told BBC Radio 2 on Monday morning: "We were having a quiet drink, seeing him move up the scoreboard, seeing him getting better and better - it was really enjoyable.

"I started sending out a few tweets just to see what kind of reaction I got because that's the kind of guy I am.

"Then Spieth did what he did on the 12th and it just went insane."

The golfer's parents, the Reverend Stephen and Elisabet Willett, said they had watched their son's "meteoric" rise in recent years open-mouthed.

Mrs Willett said he took up the sport during childhood holidays in Anglesey when their father would take them to play golf.

"Gradually Danny got better and better than all the rest of them and we thought maybe there was something there," she told the BBC Radio 4 Today programme

Mr Willett said they had later argued when he used to keep their son off school so he could improve his golf.

"Every Wednesday - my wife used to argue with me - I'd take him to a golf club, drop him off, pick him up at 8 o'clock at night and get told off for keeping him off school," he said.

Mrs Willett joked that her husband used to write "the most appalling" excuses for keeping him off school.

She said: "He used to say Danny wasn't in school yesterday but he's here today, and that used to be it for years and years. But the PE department, the better he got the more they supported him, so the school in the end was fantastic."

Willett's return to British soil will be welcomed by those who have watched him progress from the amateur circuit.

Graham Walker, 57, who coached Willett for 10 years from when he was 15 at The Oaks Golf Club, York, said his "dream" had always been to become the number one professional player in the world.

"That was always the dream and the goal, and that's what we set about trying to achieve", Mr Walker said.

"He was always going to work to become the best player in the world, wherever that takes him - whether that takes him to number one, number two, that's what he'll work towards. That's his thirst. That's his desire," he added.

Tony Grayson, captain of Lindrick Golf Club, which Willett joined in 2010, said he had believed the golfer would win a major tournament "for many years".

"Danny works incredibly hard. Ten hours a day at times. You get out of life what you put into it and he deserves all he's got," he said.

"And I don't think it will be his last major, by any stretch of the imagination. I think he's got that determination and he's got that will to win."

Read More

From Belfast Telegraph