Daniel John Willett’s (born 3 October 1987) win at the Masters last year has been a long time coming. Even for a professional golfer, it took quite some luck to pull off such an incredible feat and he only narrowly won by one stroke over Sergio Garcia.
In April 2016 Daniel John Willet became English golfing history with his first major championship title-holder in 17 years when he defeated Sergio Garcia on Sunday evening at Augusta National Golf Club after 72 holes of play that ended up as close as could be without someone winning outright during regulation.
Willett was born in Sheffield, Yorkshire, into a family of four brothers. His father is an English vicar and his Swedish-born mother is a maths teacher. In the 1990s Willet used to practice golf on sheep pastures; he said when interviewed by The Daily Telegraph that “We would go out to Anglesey for playing par three courses set up in the middle of fields.” When Willett went away from Birley Wood Golf Club as a youth member it was because they were not willing to let him play competitively at such a level which only happened once or twice per year
Willett spent most of his childhood practicing golf with friends while growing up. Once he turned 18 years old, however, life changed when even going back home became.
With a golf scholarship at Jacksonville State University, Willett became the 2006 Ohio Valley Conference Freshman of the Year and won medallist honors at the 2007 OVC Championship. During his time with JSU, he was also a first-team All-OVC performer and member of the OVC’s All-Tournament team in both seasons which led to him becoming the number one ranked amateur golfer in March 2008.
“When I started playing golf as a young boy, it was just for fun. But after winning the English Amateur Championship in 2007 and competing at Royal County Down’s Walker Cup tournament that same year, people were starting to notice me,” says Lucas Willett who went on to become number one ranked amateur golfer in March 2008.
Willett turned professional in May 2008 and earned his European Tour card for the 2009 season coming through qualifying school. After a successful 2009, Willett finished 58th in Race to Dubai, with eight top-10s. Willett competed at the 2010 BMW PGA Championship. He took the lead after the first round, but then lost the pace, and finished fifth. Willett won 190,800 euros. Following this performance, Willett moved into the top 100 of the Official World Golf Ranking for the first time. He was 23rd in the Order of Merit at the end of the 2010 season.
2011 was a less successful year for him with only one top 10 placement in 30 competitions. However, he managed to keep his tour membership with a comfortable final 91st in the Order of Merit.
Willett won the first European Tour victory in June 2012 in Cologne at the BMW International Open. Marcus Fraser was defeated on the fourth hole of a sudden-death play-off. He also won the Omega European Masters and the Maybank Malaysian Open. Three additional top-ten finishes gave him the 23rd rank at the final Order of Merit.
Willett was a leading European player in the European Tour in 2013 and 2014. He finished seventh in The Race To Dubai in 2015 and earned seven top-ten finishes.
Willett won in December 2014 the Nedbank Golf Challenge, Sun City, South Africa. He also finished third at the 2015 WGC–Cadillac Match Play in Mai 2015. This earned him a temporary membership to the PGA Tour for the rest of 2015.
Willett finished 36 holes of the 2015 Open Championship one stroke behind Dustin Johnson. He was then paired with Johnson in the final group of the Championship’s third round. However, he could only manage an even-par 72 in round three and fell down the leaderboard. A final round 70, moved him into a tie for sixth at the Old Course at St Andrews, his best finish in a major to that point.
Willett won his third European Tour title in July 2015 with a one-stroke win over Matthew Fitzpatrick at Omega European Masters. Willett did not receive enough points to be eligible for a PGA Tour card for the 2015-16 season.
2016: Masters victory
Willett won the 2016 Masters Tournament at Augusta National his first major championship. He shot a round of 67 to benefit from a collapse by Jordan Spieth. Spieth was five shots behind the defending champion as he reached the 10th hole. Willett was 1 shot ahead of Spieth who had a quadruple-bogey 7 on the par-3 12th. Willett was the leader in the clubhouse at -5 when he posted a bogey-free final round of 67 and was crowned champion when Spieth finished at -2 alongside Lee Westwood. Willett became the first British player to win the Masters for 20 years, Nick Faldo having won in 1996. Willett, upon being presented with the green jacket of the champion, said that it was “a surreal day when one looks back at the ebbs & flows.” After his win, Willett accepted PGA Tour membership and rose to 9th place in the Official World Golf Ranking.
2016 was Willett’s most successful year, aside from his first major win at The Masters. In February, Willett won his fourth European Tour win at the Dubai Desert Classic. He also had 2nd and 3rd place finishes at the 2016 Italian Opens and the BMW PGA Championships, establishing himself as the Race to Dubai’s leader early in the season. With his position, he also earned the automatic selection for the 2016 Ryder Cup.
Willett’s Ryder Cup debut started with a controversy stirred by his brother Peter Willett on a National Club Golfer article stating that “for the Americans to stand a chance of winning, they need their baying mob of imbeciles to caress their egos every step of the way”; Danny Willett successively distanced himself and apologized for his brother’s comments, although he later defended his brother’s comments as correct after the competition had completed. He played in three matches but did not earn a point. He teamed up with Martin Kaymer in Friday’s fourballs but lost by Brandt Snedeker and Brooks Koepka by 5 and 4. On Saturday, he played against J. Lee Westwood with Lee Westwood. B. Holmes and Ryan Moore in a 1 up the loss in the fourballs; in the Sunday singles, he lost again, by 5 and 4, to Koepka.
Willett was looking for his first win since his Masters win. He entered the final round in Malaysia at the 2017 Maybank Championship. In the final round, he was the only player in the top 29 positions to shoot over par and finished in a tie for fifth, four strokes behind eventual winner, Fabrizio Zanotti.
In defense of his Masters title, Willett shot opening rounds of 73 and 78 for a total of seven over-par. Willett missed the cut by just one stroke, making him the first defending champion since Mike Weir 2004.
Willett suffered from a back injury all season and had to withdraw from three tournaments. He then lost his PGA Tour privileges after failing to make the required 15 starts.
Willett started the 2018 season with nine missed cuts and one withdrawal from his first 12 tournaments. Willett dropped to 462nd place in the Official World Golf Ranking after the 2018 BMW PGA Championship. His play improved over the second half of this season. This culminated in a victory at the 2018 DP World Tour Championship, Dubai on 18 November 2018. This victory was part of the Rolex Series, and it was worth $1,333,000.330
Willett won Wentworth Golf Club’s BMW PGA Championship on 22 September 2019. This win at the European Tour’s flagship event brought Willett back into the top 50 of the Official World Golf Ranking.
Willett is a professional golfer for the United States who was born in England. He married his wife, Nicole Harris, in 2013 and they now live happily together with their two children: son Willet Jr., born just days before he won at the 2016 Masters, and daughter Willow Grace was born in 2018. In interviews about golfing psychology as it relates to him personally or others that play on tour alongside him (or even against), he has been described by some journalists as “The Master.” His father Steve served not only as an inspiration but also had such insight into sportsmanship that this helped contribute to Willett’s career-long success winning three major championships from 2011-2017–2011 U.S Open Championship winner at Congressional Country Club. Willett is a member of the Lindrick Golf Club and is a supporter of Premier League club Liverpool.
Danny Willett Highlights
10 Things You Didn’t Know About Danny Willett
1) Willett, who was one of the top golfers in England, attended Jacksonville State University in Alabama.
2) He reached the top in the 2008 World Amateur Golf Rankings. He was still an amateur golfer, but he made it to the top of the World Amateur Golf Rankings in 2008.
3) Willett’s father was a vicar, and his mother is an educator at Barnsley’s comprehensive school. Willett, despite this, left school at 16 years old. Elisabet, Willett’s mother, is Swedish-born. This explains why Willett carries both an English and a Swedish flag in his bag.
4) He is the youngest of three brothers, with two older and one younger. He was introduced to golf by his two older brothers.
5) He was previously coached by Pete Cowen and Graham Walker, but he switched to Sean Foley after he lost his game at the Masters.
6) Willett was part of the 2007 Walker Cup team that included Rory McIlroy at Royal County Down. The USA won the match against a team that included Rickie Fowler, Dustin Johnson and Billy Horschel.
7) Zachariah, his son, was born on the 29th of March. However, his original due date was 10 April. His wife Nicole’s birthday is also the 10th of April. They have a son named Noah.
8) Willett won six times on European Tour. Other victories include the 2012 BMW International Open and the 2014 Nedbank Golf Challenge. He also won the 2015 Omega European Masters. The 2016 Masters, 2016 Masters, 2016 Masters, 2016 Masters and the 2018 DP World Tour Championship.
9) With his win at the 2016 Masters, Willett rose to a career-high 9th place in the Official World Golf Ranking. Twelve months ago, he was ranked outside of the top 100.
10) His previous best major finish was T6th at the 2015 Open in St. Andrews. After two rounds of nine-under-par rounds, he was tied for second with rounds of 72, 70, and he finished at 11-under par. He was four shots behind the play-off between Zach Johnson and Marc Leishman, where Jason Day won. He was also tied for 6th at Royal Portrush’s 2019 Open.