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The Open: Mum's the word for high-flying Danny Willett

Willett reveals text from his mother is keeping him grounded

By Phil Casey

Danny Willett set a testing clubhouse target in the weather-affected Open Championship yesterday, then revealed he was soon brought back to earth by his mother.

Willett is 41 under par for his last 10 rounds on the Old Course at St Andrews after adding a 69 to his opening 66 to reach nine under par, two shots ahead of Scotland's Marc Warren and former Masters champions Zach Johnson and Adam Scott.

American Dustin Johnson is currently at 10 under par but play was suspended due to bad light last night while he was on the 13th hole and he continues this morning, the earlier three-hour rain delay meaning 42 players weren't able to complete their second round.

But while vicar's son Willett, from Sheffield, is rightly entertaining thoughts of becoming the first English winner of the Open since Nick Faldo in 1992, his mother Elizabeth kept his feet planted firmly on the ground.

"I just had a text message off my mum saying well done, you've made the cut," Willett told his post-round press conference.

"I'm sure there will be a few messages, I can feel my phone buzzing a little bit right now. But it might be a case tonight of turning the phone off and having a little bit of quiet time."

After the flooded course caused a delay, Willett carded birdies on the second, fifth and ninth to reach the turn in 33, before another birdie on the 10th gave him a three-shot lead as Zach Johnson dropped shots on the 11th and 12th holes.

Three-putt bogeys on the 15th and 17th cut the gap to a single shot, but Willett took advantage of the downwind 18th to drive to the edge of the green and pitched to eight feet for a closing birdie.

"I looked at the leaderboard on 11 and knew we were three in front," added Willett, whose best finish in a Major is a share of 15th at Muirfield in 2013.

"It's a childhood dream and looking up there it's still a little bit surreal, but something I'm going to have to get used to, otherwise there's no point in being up there.

"You can't really put it out of your mind but it's pretty cool. Leading the Open is what you dream about. For Brits especially it's the Major you want to win and here at the Home of Golf it's a little bit more special."

Jordan Spieth, aiming to clinch his third consecutive Major after already taking the Masters and US Open, is still in with a shout despite having his round interrupted last night.

Another victim of the suspension of play, he is set to finish his second round this morning as he bids to become only the second person in history to win the first three Majors of the year - the first and only being Ben Hogan in 1953.

The American whizzkid is currently on five under par, four behind clubhouse leader Willett and five behind playing partner Dustin Johnson.

Meanwhile, it was another day to forget for Tiger Woods - the 14-time Major champion is set to miss the cut despite still having seven holes of his second round to play this morning.

Woods, who has three Open titles to his name, finished last night on an overall total of five over par after a damaging opening round of four over on Thursday.

He hit bogeys on the fourth and sixth holes yesterday but claimed a shot back with a birdie on the 10th before the suspension of play.

And Tom Watson bid an emotional farewell to the Open after failing to make the cut - the five-time winner finished with a bogey on the 18th to sign for a 12-over total overall.

The American, who also won two Masters and a US Open in his heydey, said after his final round at the competition: "It was wonderful to have that final walk in front of a lot of people who I hope that I touched over the years of playing and have showed them some shots they were in awe of.

"When I was a kid that was one of ways I would get out of shyness, I would hit a shot and get praise from people. I carried that on into my professional career.

"Today I didn't give them many good shots and I am disappointed from that standpoint but it was a pleasure to have people cheer me on during my whole round of golf today was very special.

"It has been a very special time in my life, I am 65 years old and it has been a great run since 1975 when I played across the links at Carnoustie.

"There are moments and memories that will be remembered."

Belfast Telegraph


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