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Willett eyes Ryder Cup return and happier outcome

The BMW PGA champion had a nightmare debut in the team event in 2016.

Danny Willett’s win in the BMW PGA Championship leaves him well placed to qualify for the 2020 Ryder Cup (Bradley Collyer/PA)
Danny Willett’s win in the BMW PGA Championship leaves him well placed to qualify for the 2020 Ryder Cup (Bradley Collyer/PA)

By Phil Casey, PA Golf Correspondent

Danny Willett wants to “get his own back” in the next Ryder Cup after enduring a miserable debut in Europe’s emphatic 2016 defeat.

Willett qualified for Darren Clarke’s team thanks to two victories in the qualifying period, most notably his maiden major title in the Masters at Augusta National.

However, the 31-year-old from Sheffield struggled with his game at Hazeltine and lost all three of his matches in a week marred by the publication of an article written by his brother Peter which described American Ryder Cup fans as a “braying mob of imbeciles”.

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Danny Willett struggled in the Ryder Cup at Hazeltine (Peter Byrne/PA)

Asked to describe his first Ryder Cup experience in the post-event press conference, Willett responded: “S***. Sorry, would you like me to elaborate? Really s***.”

Sunday’s victory in the BMW PGA Championship, the first qualifying event for next year’s contest, leaves Willett well positioned to make the European team for Whistling Straits.

And the world number 31 is keen to play his part as Padraig Harrington’s side attempt to retain the trophy won in Paris last year.

“I do want to be part of the European team, I want to get my own back on what I felt like was a disappointing end of 2016 when it should have been one of the best years of my life,” Willett said. “It ended up being a pretty poor one in the main.

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Danny Willett celebrates his Masters win with his wife Nicole and son Zachariah in 2016 (Peter Byrne/PA)

“At Hazeltine the body wasn’t behaving itself, I wasn’t playing good golf. To go there and not play good golf is not where you want to be. You want to go there at full fitness on full steam and really try and perform.

“There are no excuses – whatever happened, happened. But I was playing poor and you can’t be swinging it poor and be in a poor frame of mind when there is that much pressure on certain golf shots. It doesn’t sync up right.

“Unfortunately for me I didn’t have a great experience last time but that is not saying next time you will have the best experience of your life. We will just have to wait and see.

“It would just be nice to go back there playing well and whatever happens I can take on the chin. The last time was tough because I wasn’t playing well and there is no way of shying away from it if you are not playing well.”

Willett admitted he looked on somewhat enviously as Europe regained the Ryder Cup at Le Golf National with Thomas Bjorn’s side enjoying the support of a partisan crowd.

“Yes, because the home crowd does play a key factor within those events,” he added. “When it is so cut-throat, so black and white in the Ryder Cup, there are not many people who go to the Ryder Cup and just want to watch good golf I don’t think any more.

“People go there like football teams, it is a very split crowd, and I think that is the kind of thing you have to put up with so I think it would be nice at some point in my life and go and play well in a Ryder Cup and be able to play well, for my own sake rather than anyone else’s.”

PA

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