The 144th Open: Willett laments ‘stale spell’ with putter but takes positives from contending at St Andrews

Jul 17, 2015; St. Andrews;   Danny Willett tee's off at the 4th during the second round of the 144th Open Championship at St. Andrews - Old Course. Picture Ian Rutherford'''�Ian Rutherford 'ianrutherfordphotography@gmail.com'www.ianrutherfordphotography.com'07710337520
Jul 17, 2015; St. Andrews; Danny Willett tee's off at the 4th during the second round of the 144th Open Championship at St. Andrews - Old Course. Picture Ian Rutherford'''�Ian Rutherford 'ianrutherfordphotography@gmail.com'www.ianrutherfordphotography.com'07710337520
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Danny Willet lamented a ‘stale spell’ with his putter as he fell out of contention for the 144th Open title, but said he can take a lot of positives from the week.

The Sheffield golfer is eyeing a top 10 finish, with the final four pairings coming to the end of their rounds.

A poor front nine, with no birdies and two bogeys, was followed by a red-hot streak on the back nine, four consecutive birdies giving him a sniff of glory again.

But bogey at 17 and par at the last saw him settle for a two under round of 70, 11 under for the tournament.

He wasn’t too unhappy with that: “It was good, but we left ourselves lots to do.

“I hit it nice, couldn’t really get anything going. The back nine started really, really well, I hit a lot of god golf shots.

“It’s a bit of a shame to finish how we did on 17, but all in all it’s been a pretty good week, I should finish top 10 or so.”

He was left to rue the three bogeys on the back nine yesterday, and today’s first nine holes, which ultimately cost him a first ever major victory.

“We had a bit of a stale spell with the putter yesterday and today,” he said.

“Will probably finish four or five shots back, which wouldn’t have been too hard to make up, so there’s plenty of positives to take.”

Alongside Justin Rose he was the top Englishman in the field, and attracted a lot of support both on the course and off it this week.

The public backing meant a lot to the vicar’s son.

“It’s been a bit mental on Twitter, the support has been great.”

“It’s not been the nicest week weather wise for the supporters, but there’s probably been something like 25 or 30,000 here, which is awesome.

“That walk up 18 was pretty special.”

Willett started the day nine under par, tied for sixth alongside eight other golfers.

The Claret Jug seemed well out of his grasp by the eighth hole, having dropped two shots to sit five shots off the lead.

But with some incredible scoring going on at the top of the leaderboard, Willett suddenly found form.

Consecutive birdies at 11, 12, 13 and 14 brought him back to within three shots of the front runners at 12 under.

The late charge came to an end, however, the Rotherham Golf Club man settling for pars at each of the next two holes, before a bogey at 17.

Par at the last game him a two under 70, nine under for the tournament.

It was a six under par round of 66 that got Willett’s Open off to a flying start, giving him a share of second place.

He took the clubhouse lead with Friday’s 69, and weather delays meant he played his third round on Sunday, going round in level par.

Today’s round saw his best numbers this week in terms of fairways and greens hit in regulation, but his worst putting record, with 33 strokes.

He’ll have little time to digest the statistics, or the experience, however.

This week sees him back in action at the Omega European Masters at Crans-sur-Sierre in Switzerland: “I’m driving home tonight, then it’s an early flight tomorrow up to Switzerland to meet my mum and dad.”