Sunday 11 December 2016

New dad Danny Willett wins US Masters as Jordan Spieth suffers epic meltdown

Phil Casey

Published 11/04/2016 | 00:16

Apr 10, 2016; Augusta, GA, USA; Danny Willett reacts after putting on the 18th green during the final round of the 2016 The Masters golf tournament at Augusta National Golf Club. Mandatory Credit: Rob Schumacher-USA TODAY Sports TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Apr 10, 2016; Augusta, GA, USA; Danny Willett reacts after putting on the 18th green during the final round of the 2016 The Masters golf tournament at Augusta National Golf Club. Mandatory Credit: Rob Schumacher-USA TODAY Sports TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY

Danny Willett won his first major title in stunning fashion on Sunday as defending champion Jordan Spieth suffered an amazing collapse in the final round of the Masters.

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Spieth birdied four holes in a row from the sixth to reach the turn with a five-shot lead and seemingly certain to follow Jack Nicklaus, Nick Faldo and Tiger Woods in winning back-to-back titles at Augusta National.

The 28-year-old from Sheffield is also the first European since Jose Maria Olazabal in 1999 to don the Green Jacket - the winner's prize - at the Augusta National Golf Club in Georgia.

The last UK winner of the first major of the season was Nick Faldo in 1996. This is Willett's first major title.

The Englishman clinched victory after the defending champion, American Jordan Spieth, suffered a collapse in the final round.

Willett came close to not even playing in the tournament as his wife's due date for their first child was on Sunday, but their son, Zachariah James, was born via C-section a week ahead of the tournament.

Wife Nicole caddied for Willett in the par-three pre-tournament contest on the eve of his debut in last year's Masters, in which he came 38th.

The new champion, whose father is a vicar, left school at 16. He quit a local college course after a month before attending Jacksonville State in Alabama for two years.

After the four-day competition, Willett finished five under par, ahead of Spieth and fellow Englishman Lee Westwood in joint second place, who were both two under.

"It's awesome," Willett told CBS.

"We played great golf today. It's been a fantastic week. We had to go out and shoot a good score and put a little pressure on and luckily we have done that."

Bookmakers Coral have already installed him at 6-1 to be the 2016 Sports Personality of the Year. He was 66-1 with Coral before the Masters got under way on Thursday.

Willett's brother Matthew, a firefighter who used to caddy for the new Masters champion, said his brother's career had started out of the sporty family's sibling rivalry.

"We used to go down to the pitch and putt and he seemed to be the one that took to it best. Well obviously!", he said, laughing.

Rebecca Willett, Danny's sister-in-law, said: "It's all been crazy and we're all so proud of him."

She said that Willett did not know whether he would be able to play in light of his wife's due date and called it "fate" that the baby had arrived early.

But the couple said that they didn't celebrate when Willett's rival Spieth hit a second ball into the water and Mr Willett said: "It was our Danny that won it. The way he played from then on was incredible."

The third Willett brother Peter won fans on Twitter on Sunday after providing a quirky running commentary of his brother's progress.

In one tweet from his @P_J_Willett account he wrote: "Speechless. I once punched that kid in the head for hurting my pet rat. Now look."

Mr Willett told ITV's Good Morning Britain on Monday morning that the news of his brother's win had "not sunk in yet".

"I have been checking my phone all night and watching clips," he said.

"He was absolutely awesome and it was a pleasure to watch."

He added: "I feel really, really proud."The 28-year-old from Sheffield is also the first European since Jose Maria Olazabal in 1999 to don the Green Jacket - the winner's prize - at the Augusta National Golf Club in Georgia.

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