• Shoots five-under 67 to win by three from Westwood, Spieth
• 'It's just been my day. It's crazy.'
THE MASTERS | Final Round
English golf has a new star. Son of a preacher man Danny Willett slipped himself into a Green Jacket at Augusta National to become the first English winner of the Masters since 1996.
“It’s crazy,” said Willett after writing himself into golf history. “To win golf tournaments is what you dream of but to be sitting here is mind boggling.”
Defending champion Jordan Spieth - chasing his third major - suffered a Greg Norman-esque Amen Corner meltdown, knocking two into Rae’s Creek to see his dreams disintegrate in incredible fashion. He finished joint second on two-under alongside Lee Westwood, who chalked up his third runner-up finish in a major.
Sheffield-born Willett’s five-under 67 gave him the clubhouse lead on five-under par as Spieth tried to claw himself back into the tournament. But the American couldn’t step up.
Europe’s No.2 golfer in 2015 was the last player to enter the tournament as his wife Nicole - born on the day Sandy Lyle won the Masters in 1988 - was due to give birth on Masters Sunday. Baby Zachariah, though, entered the world early, giving Willett the green light to tee it up in only his second Masters. “You talk about fate,” he said sitting proud as punch in front of the world’s media. “It’s been crazy. Words can’t describe it. This is just a different league. It’s going to take a while to sink in.”
Danny Willett made his debut at the Masters last year, tying for 38th, and has just the one career top-ten in majors, a tie for sixth at last year’s Open. Now, he’s a major champion and a Green Jacket owner.
“It’s not been a bad last 12 days. Yeah, words can’t describe the feelings of what’s going on and what we’ve just accomplished. Obviously Sandy and Nick were the last two Brits, a long, long time ago. And to follow up with them, it’s fantastic. They were great champions to win the Masters. And I still can’t believe I’m going to be in and amongst them, and in the Champions locker room. It really boggles me.”
Spieth was hoping to become the youngest ever two-time Masters champion but suffered an Amen Corner disaster of gigantic proportions. He hit two into the water on the 12th, signing for a quadruple bogey seven, to bow out of contention. Willett said he heard the “grunting, the moaning” of the crowd reacting to Spieth’s collapse and was glad they hadn’t made a mistake with the scoreboard. “He obviously went on a terrible run, and I was fortune enough to pounce on the opportunity. He said I had played great. He’s a classy player.”
The similarities between Faldo’s 1996 win and Willett’s were startling.
In ’96, Norman blundered on 10, 11 and 12. Faldo pounced with a 67.
This afternoon, Spieth blundered on 10, 11 and 12. Willett pounced with a 67.
Willet’s caddie Jonathan Smart had the same bib number, 89, as Jack Nicklaus’ caddie, son Jackie, during Nicklaus' famous win at Augusta in 1986.
Danny Willett 'heart in mouth'
Speaking on CBS, Sir Nick Faldo paid tribute to the way Willett - who didn’t drop a shot in his last 21 holes - handled the pressure cooker of Augusta National. “Danny Willett, wow," said Faldo of his compatriot's composure. "It’s a different game swinging a golf club with your heart in your mouth, I can promise you.”
Asked why he had opted to take off his white jumper on the 18th green, Willett grinned and said it wasn't for anything special.
"I was warm, is the genuine reason. I had been hot all day right in between, but when the breeze comes through it's quite cold. I was quite warm... plus I thought a little bit of the green looked better than white."