Danny Willett wins 2016 US Masters

Jordan Spieth reacts after hitting his tee shot into the water on the 12th. Photo: Kevin C. CoxAs it happened: US Masters, final daySpieth’s eye fails him
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Ever since the infamous Sunday of the 1996 Masters, Nick Faldo has reminded people that Greg Norman was not the only player out there. Faldo was no lucky bystander: he shot 67 that day.

Danny Willett, the first Englishman to win a green jacket since Faldo, also shot 67 in the fourth round. And while memories of the 2016 Masters will focus on Jordan Spieth’s quadruple-bogey on the 12th, killing off what would have been a wire-to-wire achievement to rank (as it ended up doing) alongside Norman’s non-victory, Willett was no more passive than Faldo had been. He wasn’t given it; he took it.

Born in Sheffield, the town that made its name for grinding steel, Willett quietly filed and lathed his way into contention over the four days. Only Spieth spent more time under par. Spieth, indeed, was never over par for the whole tournament. Willett was only over par between the first and sixth holes on Saturday. Otherwise, he was steadfast. While Rory McIlroy, Jason Day, Justin Rose and others surged and fell back again, Willett held his ground. And when he finally made his run on Sunday’s back nine, he was simply brilliant.

Golf is an unpredictable game; so is pregnancy. Willett was only able to partake in the one because of the vagaries of the other. His wife Nicole had been due to give birth to their son on 10 April, and if all had gone to plan the 28-year-old Yorkshireman would have been at home rather than Augusta. But Zachary was born last Tuesday week, and Willett gained a leave pass to fly to the USA on Monday. He was one of the last to arrive in Augusta, and had only two days to practise.

“It’s been crazy,” he said of his life-changing past ten days. “I’m not quite sure which is better, this day or last Tuesday. They are very, very, very close there. I don’t know which one I should say to be politically correct.”

He was by no means a roughie. With four tournament wins on the European PGA Tour, most recently the 2016 Desert Classic in Dubai, he made the cut in last year’s Masters and finished sixth in the British Open. He came into this week ranked 12 in the world.

After rounds of 70, 74 and 72, he entered the last day three shots behind Spieth. As the American forged ahead with an outward four-under-par 32, Willett birdied the par-three sixth and the par-five eighth to turn in 34. Five behind, he made three safe pars before birdieing 13, 14 and 16 and avoiding the mistakes that were bringing other competitors undone. Among them was Australia’s world number one Day, who spent the round hovering between even and one-over, constantly rebounding between attack and error.

With all the dismay and disbelief circling Spieth, Willett played the last four holes with perfect composure. A brilliant birdie on 16 was followed by a pulled approach on 17, but he chipped immaculately and made putt after putt.

His misfortune is that his superb round will be overshadowed by the Shakespearean tragedy happening two holes behind him. But he was humble about it. As the disappointed locals streamed for the exits like Manly fans on a bad day, Willett accepted his green blazer from Spieth and thanked the American ‘for letting me stand here and not be putting the jacket on yourself again’. And here was some consolation for Spieth. While Norman’s day of despair came at the end of a decade of Masters heartbreak, Spieth is only 22 and is already a champion.

Final leaderboard

283: Danny Willett (ENG) 70 74 72 67

286: Lee Westwood (ENG) 71 75 71 69, Jordan Spieth (USA) 66 74 73 73

287: Dustin Johnson (USA) 73 71 72 71, Paul Casey (ENG) 69 77 74 67, J.B. Holmes (USA) 72 73 74 68

288: Soren Kjeldsen (DEN) 69 74 74 71, Hideki Matsuyama (JPN) 71 72 72 73, Matthew Fitzpatrick (ENG) 71 76 74 67

289: Daniel Berger (USA) 73 71 74 71, Justin Rose (ENG) 69 77 73 70, Brandt Snedeker (USA) 71 72 74 72, Jason Day (AUS) 72 73 71 73, Rory McIlroy (NIR) 70 71 77 71

291: Kiradech Aphibarnrat (THA) 72 72 77 70, Louis Oosthuizen (RSA) 72 77 71 71

292: Emiliano Grillo (ARG) 71 75 74 72, Rafael Cabrera (ESP) 74 73 75 70, Danny Lee (NZL) 68 74 79 71, Billy Horschel (USA) 70 77 73 72

293: Brooks Koepka (USA) 73 72 76 72, Jamie Donaldson (WAL) 74 72 75 72, Bryson DeChambeau (USA) 72 72 77 72

294: Henrik Stenson (SWE) 72 75 78 69, Bill Haas (USA) 75 74 72 73, Bernhard Langer (GER) 72 73 70 79, Matt Kuchar (USA) 75 73 72 74, Angel Cabrera (ARG) 73 73 73 75

295: Jimmy Walker (USA) 71 75 74 75, Scott Piercy (USA) 70 72 79 74, Smylie Kaufman (USA) 73 72 69 81, Webb Simpson (USA) 77 72 74 72, Charley Hoffman (USA) 71 77 73 74

296: Bernd Wiesberger (AUT) 73 72 79 72, Kevin Streelman (USA) 71 75 79 71, Sergio Garcia (ESP) 69 75 81 71

297: Bubba Watson (USA) 75 75 76 71, Kevin Kisner (USA) 77 72 76 72

298: Romain Langasque (FRA) 74 73 83 68, Justin Thomas (USA) 76 73 78 71, Shane Lowry (IRL) 68 76 79 75

299: Anirban Lahiri (IND) 76 73 75 75, Harris English (USA) 74 73 76 76, Victor Dubuisson (FRA) 73 76 76 74, Chris Wood (ENG) 72 73 75 79, Davis Love III (USA) 73 73 76 77, Adam Scott (AUS) 76 72 75 76, Troy Merritt (USA) 74 71 79 75

300: Ian Poulter (ENG) 69 78 82 71, Patrick Reed (USA) 76 73 75 76, Martin Kaymer (GER) 74 75 79 72

301: Larry Mize (USA) 76 73 78 74, Keegan Bradley (USA) 74 73 77 77

302: Hunter Mahan (USA) 73 75 78 76

303: Cameron Smith (AUS) 74 73 82 74, Kevin Na (USA) 72 74 85 72

307: Thongchai Jaidee (THA) 72 76 81 78

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.