Friday 23 February 2018

New reality bites for Master Willett

Padraig Harrington. Photo by Warren Little/Getty Images
Padraig Harrington. Photo by Warren Little/Getty Images
Liam Kelly

Liam Kelly

Major champions with a variety of problems - such is golf's version of snakes and ladders.

In the case of 2016 Masters winner Danny Willett, his is a luxury issue. Willett is the proud possessor of a Green Jacket and, as such, has secured a place in the annals of golfing history.

Right now his game is in flux as he seeks to find the magic touch with changes he made to his swing post-Augusta. Willett is playing in the Nedbank Challenge, the second of the European Tour's Final Series, but he's not in as bad a position as it feels to him right now after rounds of 75, 74 for a five-over par total.

He does not appreciate trailing tournament leader Alex Noren (eight-under) by 13 shots, but the Sheffield native remains in second place on the Race to Dubai rankings, and has banked €3,591,120 in European Tour earnings so far this year.

Willett fell into the trap of trying to build on his Augusta victory and, as so often happens, has to go backwards before he can go forward. "You're always trying to do better things. You're always trying to train harder, practise harder," he said. "Even if you're playing great, even the Masters this year, that was unbelievable. And then a few weeks later, you're still trying to get better."

Willett brought his Green Jacket to Sun City, partly to remind himself of what he achieved as one of four first-time Major winners this year. Martin Kaymer, a two-time Major winner, lies bottom of the field in the event on 12-over par (81, 75).

Pádraig Harrington's 76, 75 places him on seven-over, which is not a huge concern given his win two weeks ago in Portugal.

YE Yang, the South Korean who became the first Asian winner of a Major title, famously eclipsing Tiger Woods in the US PGA Championship of 2009, would happily swop places with Willett, Kaymer and Harrington (left), because he has to tee it up today in round one of the Tour School in Spain. Yang's fate illustrates that in golf, as with investments, past performance is no guarantee of future success.

Meanwhile, in the OHL Classic at Mayakoba, Seamus Power's impressive second-round 66 brought him within five shots of the leader, Gary Woodland, who set the target at 13-under with a 65.

Defending champion Graeme McDowell matched Woodland's 65 for a two-under total of 140 to make the cut right on the mark.

Nedbank Challenge

Live, Sky Sports 4, 7.0am

OHL Classic at Mayakoba

Live, Sky Sports 4, 6.0pm

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