Danny Willett: It’ll take time to become a Master

Danny Willett
Danny Willett
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It might not be a fact Danny Willett will be keen to hear repeated this weekend but the Masters is not event for a rookie.

Just three rookies in the 81 year history of the tournament have emerged as winners – and that includes Horton Smith and Gene Sarazen who won the first two. Fuzzy Zoeller was the third and final rookie to do so, all the way back in 1979.

Unsurprisingly, Augusta National has the reputation as a course where experience counts. Knowing every inch of the stunning golf course is considered vital for any serious push for victory at the Masters.

Sheffield golfer Willett tees off in his first ever Masters at just before 1pm today, playing alongside former champion Larry Mize and amateur Byron Meth.

Today’s round will also complete the set of Majors for Willett with the 27-year-old having featured in the Open, US Open and USPGA Championship in recent years.

And he says his experience of the other Majors has told him he is likely to have a tough time on his first competitive visit to Augusta.

“Any of the Majors are very difficult things to come out of the blocks and win early on,” Willett said.

“A handful of people have done it but it’s more likely the guys you see year in, year out.

“Freddie Couples is someone who always plays well at the Masters.

“Lee Westwood has had some tremendous results in all Majors.

“There’s only certain things that come with playing and winning them. “You experience a whole vibe about how a Major plays out and who is scoring high or low.

“You realise how patient you’ve got to be compared to a normal golf event.

“Ridiculous things can happen on the back nine on a Sunday. Someone can shoot 29, someone can shoot 45. It’s just the added pressure.

“Mentally you need to be prepared for a different week.

“Going to the Open, you know you’re going to be grinding, particularly if the weather isn’t great.

“It’s the same with the US Open, you can’t let your guard down.

“When it comes to Augusta, I just don’t know yet.

“It might be a case of the first time I’m there it might be a bit tricky.

“You have to map out the golf course really well, learn where the flags are and where you don’t want to be under pressure.

“It’s no surprise that not many guys go out there and win Majors that early on in their careers.”

Worksop’s Lee Westwood tees off at 5.30pm today alongside Miguel Angel Jimenez.