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Irish Open 2016: Danny Willett still mastering life after his Major triumph

By Liam Kelly

Published 18/05/2016

In demand: Danny Willett has had a hectic schedule since his Augusta win
In demand: Danny Willett has had a hectic schedule since his Augusta win

His voice was slightly hoarse, he looked and sounded tired, but the wearing of the green jacket sits easily with Masters champion Danny Willett.

Life has changed in so many ways since Sunday, April 10 when 28-year-old Willett won at Augusta, but so far, so very good.

"I've just been busy, a lot of commitments you've got to do on and off the golf course. No one really prepares you for that," he said.

"You can't quite understand what guys like Rory McIlroy and Jordan Spieth go through until you experience it. It's been a busy four weeks."

Among the commitments were two dinners organised by captain Darren Clarke for potential European Ryder Cup team members.

The match against the USA at Hazeltine from September 30-October 2 is very much on Willett's horizon, who is a certainty for selection.

"I actually went to two dinners last week," he said. "I went to the one with the more experienced guys, and the one which I obviously will be in, which is the rookie collection.

"It was good to hear Darren speak to the guys and to get in that team environment already."

This week's Irish Open at The K Club, his first event in Europe since the Masters, also gets Willett's juices flowing, although he wants to downplay his own expectations.

"I've never played here. I watched the 2006 Ryder Cup, and the course looks good," he said. "I'm trying not to put too much expectation on doing anything fantastic, just trying to get some rust out of the system."

The Masters was only Willett's fifth Tour victory in the six years since he turned professional in 2008, but when he wins, this guy wins big.

"You compare it to a lot of guys in Europe," he added. "There's some fantastic players who have never got a Major that have won 10, 20 tournaments. I think that classifies as a fantastic career. There's only four Majors a year, and you've got a 25-year career if you keep fit."

Willett starts off the first tee tomorrow at 1.35pm alongside Lee Westwood and Spain's Rafa Cabrero-Bello. McIlroy's playing partners are England's Andy Sullivan and 2015 winner Soren Kjeldsen, who start at 1.25pm, also off the first tee.

Paul McGinley (7.55am), Padraig Harrington (8.05am), and Shane Lowry (8.35am) start on the 10th tee.

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