Column: Danny Willett will bounce back from Ryder Cup nightmare

Danny Willett stands with wife Nicole during the Saturday foresomes at the Ryder Cup at Hazeltine
Danny Willett stands with wife Nicole during the Saturday foresomes at the Ryder Cup at Hazeltine
0
Have your say

Danny Willett kept things simple when asked to sum up his Ryder Cup debut: “S**t.”

It brought laughter to the press conference that doubled as an inquest into Europe’s defeat to the United States at Hazeltine National.

The Sheffield golfer himself started to chuckle and even offered a joking elaboration: “Really s**t.”

It was a positive sign that the 29-year-old could laugh about what had been a difficult week in Minnesota.

His debut at one of the greatest events in all of sport should have been a dream. But it quickly descended into a nightmare.

It started with the unwanted attention brought by a controversial anti-American column written by his brother Peter.

It ended with him suffering the biggest defeat in the singles and leaving as part of the well-beaten European team, having failed to contribute a single point to their effort.

The ability to laugh at rather than hiding away from such a difficult few days shows the strength of character of the 29-year-old, particularly as the tide against him grew stronger as the week wore on.

And the fact he chose to back up his brother’s assessment of US supporters on Twitter as he left Hazeltine shows he is bullish about his negative experience in the Mid West.

But he will not be taking the last few days lightly. Willett is a player meticulous in his preparation and constantly working on improving his game. There will be no sweeping under the carpet of three days of off-form golf.

Willett will look to bounce back quickly. And there is no doubt he will bounce back because he has proven over the last two years that his base level is much higher than the standard he produced over the weekend.

The reigning Masters champion is far from a one tournament wonder – and he will prove that again.

His triumph at Augusta in April was the high point of an incredibly swift rise up golf’s pecking order, coming after a few years of gradual improvement during his first few years on the European Tour.

That he won a Major was no real surprise to anyone who had followed his progress.

A stunningly successful year saw him on the brink of topping the Race To Dubai order of merit, beaten to the title in the final event by Rory McIlroy.

And he sits atop the rankings again, largely down to a brilliant start to the season of which his Masters win was only part.

Willett’s composure is excellent. He is unflappable for the majority of time on the course, as was highlighted when he thundered in a distance putt at the end of his first Ryder Cup hole on Friday, despite having been jeered by the partisan American crowd from tee to green.

Composure on course is a vital element for the elite as Phil Mickelson has proven over the last two decades. When your all round game is as good as Willett’s, a strong mind is what takes a golfer to the next level.

He has that strength of mind. So do not be surprised when he lifts the Race To Dubai trophy in November after bouncing back well over the next couple of weeks.