The daddy of all victories.
Having (very) recently reached the milestone of fatherhood without winning a major, 28-year-old Yorkshireman Danny Willett’s victory at yesterday’s Masters was made even more remarkable for the way he achieved it.
As long-time frontrunner Jordan Spieth capitulated on the back nine, the relative underdog Willett hit a hot streak and coolly took his chances to reign supreme, becoming the first Brit to wear the illustrious green jacket since Nick Faldo in 1996.
And while golf aficionados will already be aware of a player who’s constantly been in the top rankings of the game over the past year or so, for those lesser informed we present everything you need to know about the man of the hour.
He almost didn’t play and believes it was fate
Willett and wife Nicole’s first son, Zachariah James, was born via C-section last week. Had the couple stuck to the original due date – landing on the final day of the Augusta tournament – he wouldn’t have played.
"My wife was born, in about 10 minutes’ time, 28 years ago, it’s her birthday back home today [Monday]. My son was due today and he came early too, obviously, letting me come and play. So you talk about fate, you talk about everything else that goes with it, it’s just been a crazy, crazy week," he said.
His brother is a comedy genius
If anything came close to eclipsing the English golfer’s titanic win it was his brother PJ’s waggish live Tweeting. The ‘author/teacher/inexperienced father’ gave his own masterclass on social media, remaining fiercely proud of his little brother’s route to glory while bringing him back down to earth with a bang.
Not that he’s lost any sense of humour himself
Stalking the greens with the steely-eyed business-like manner of peak era Tiger Woods? Far from it. Even before the whooping and wild high-fiving between caddie Jonathan Smart and Willett after finishing 5-under, he clearly has a lot of fun when out on the course. Not as much as Shane Lowry, perhaps, but enough to ensure he hasn’t forgotten his roots, as this retweet proved last night.
His other older brother, Matthew, has been crucial to his game
Citing the fact that he had to find a sport he could beat his brothers at, Danny credits Matthew in particular for piquing his interest in golf. Clearly keen on keeping it in the family, his sibling, seen here, has even caddied in the past, as has his wife.
He’s the son of a preacher man
The Sheffield-born hero’s dad is a Vicar - and given how spectacularly Spieth’s game imploded in the last few hours, who’s to say some divine intervention wasn’t involved?
It was only Willett’s second Masters
Finishing joint 38th in his debut, you might not have even seen him if you tuned in for the business end of the competition last year. Only seven other players have won a Masters in their first or second starts, and Willettt now joins that illustrious list.
His prize at the Masters is double his total career earnings so farGood news for his bank manager: before The Masters, Willett’s career earnings stood at $677,265 – now dwarfed all at once with the giant novelty $1.8m cheque he’s about to cash. Plus, with so much exposure from the mainstream, expect his commercial deals to multiply.
It isn’t the first time he’s taken a title from Rory McIlroy
As good as it was for Willett, this year’s Masters would have been one to forget for Rory McIlroy, deserted by form and short of confidence from Saturday through to Sunday. There was also previous, with Willett having already beaten the Northern Irishman in competition to win 2007’s Amateur Championship.
He was once the number one ranked amateur in the world
After quitting a local college course, which he claims he hated, Willis took his talents to Alabama’s Jacksonville State where, over two years, he won the 2006 Ohio Valley Conference Freshman of the Year, among other notable honours. From there, he became an amateur serial winner, bagging trophies at the English, Spanish and Australian amateur finals.
He still can't quite believe it
"I still can’t believe I’m going to be in and amongst them. And in the champions locker room, it really is mind-boggling for me.”
What you talkin' bout Willett? You're the man.