NERVES OF STEEL

"Yorkshire born Danny Willett became the first Englishman to win The Masters since Nick Faldo in 1996"

20 years of hurt for English golfers was ended on Sunday after he claimed an unlikely victory over hot favourite Jordan Spieth in Augusta.

Since Golf’s most prestigious tournament began all the way back in 1936, to say that it has been heavily dominated by American winners would be an understatement. In terms of European winners in more recent years, you would have to go back to 1999 for when the last European golfer wore the much sought after green jacket through Spaniard Jose Maria Olazabal. However, the wait is now over and Yorkshire has provided the latest champion in the form of an unlikely source that is 28 year old Danny Willett who hails from the Steel City of Sheffield.

The man himself, Sheffield's Danny Willett.

The man himself, Sheffield’s Danny Willett.

After round one, you could have got odds of 50/1 for Willett to win the tournament, and even the day before the victory some bookmakers were offering odds as good as 20/1 for Willett to be wearing the green jacket on Sunday. So how did this surprise victory happen? Well it seems it was on the large part due to the unexpected meltdown of the usually reliable American Jordan Spieth. It was firmly in the hands of the 22 year old coming into the closing stages, but the World No. 2 cracked under the looming pressure of retaining his title, and hit the ball into Rae’s Creek twice on the way to what turned out a dramatic downfall for Spieth.

However I’m taking nothing away from the impressive performance from Willett himself, who thrived upon the slip up from Spieth which allowed him to take his chances and claim an outstanding victory at Augusta. One man who wasn’t too happy about Willett’s success was former Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson, as he informed the Yorkshireman of an £8,000 bet he had placed on Jordan Spieth to win The Masters which didn’t come in thanks to Willett, who didn’t help himself getting into Fergie’s good books by confessing he was also a Liverpool FC fan. Putting jokes aside, Sir Alex did congratulate the new champion so it was all okay between the two after all.

He is human after all. Spieth slips up at Augusta

He is human after all. Spieth slips up at Augusta

Danny Willett at one point looked like he was not going to participate in the competition at all, as he revealed several weeks ago that the birth of his son is something he would not miss for anything and therefore, if the child hadn’t arrived before the start of The Masters, he would not be travelling to Augusta to play. However a week before the tournament was due to begin, his wife Nicola gave birth to a baby boy, allowing Willett to play. It turned out to be quite a great couple of weeks for the 28 year old with a new baby and the surprise Masters success, as well as seeing himself move up to number 9 in the golf world rankings. In terms of the wider picture following this success, this victory will pave the way for more European golfers to believe they can win major tournaments such as this and maybe it is now time to halt the trend of the American golfing domination.

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