The Masters: Danny Willett suffers an Augusta nightmare... but he and Matt Fitzpatrick will both be back at the top end

Danny Willett cannot hide his frustration during his second round at The Masters
Danny Willett cannot hide his frustration during his second round at The Masters
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He probably would liked to have been anywhere else but there comes certain duties when you are reigning Masters champion.

So, despite his own hopes of making a successful defence of the crown ending in disastrous fashion on Friday evening, Danny Willett was forced to hang around at Augusta National.

Matthew Fitzpatrick chips to the second green during the second round of the Masters

Matthew Fitzpatrick chips to the second green during the second round of the Masters

One of his duties of course, to stand in the Butler Cabin at the end of play and present the Green Jacket to the new champion, Sergio Garcia. And with that duty came the end of Willett’s time in the Masters spotlight.

He will of course be back. Each champion can choose to compete at Augusta every year for as long as he wishes. There are tables to be sat at for Champion’s Dinners for decades to come. But he can be more inconspicuous next year at least - and you get the impression that is just the way he will like it.

Willett has enjoyed the trappings that winning the Green Jacket bestows but knows his golf game is the priority.

He has spoken regularly of his frustration that excellent practice performances have failed to carry over onto the course in a competitive environment.

Taking away intense scrutiny will give him a much better chance of doing the job where it is most important once again. Afterall, his rise to golfing prominence came relatively under the radar. His triumph 12 months ago delivered to him arguably golf’s greatest high.

But it planted upon a spotlight where a general struggle for form for the proceeding year was picked apart to the minutiae.

Willett simply could not escape and reassess his golf game, quietly putting to work minor adjustments to rediscover the consistency which saw him emerge as one of the European Tour’s leading figures.

And of course, it meant carding an eight on the par four first in Friday’s second round was big, big news.

It was a catastrophic few minutes which golfing enthusiasts the world over could sympathise with.

But for the Hackenthorpe-raised golfer, it was no mere disappointing start to a round. It brought to an end not only his hopes of retaining the title, it ultimately led to him missing the cut which no other defending champion had done in the last 13 years.

The desire to withdraw himself from the spotlight will have been strong, particularly with the opportunity there to spend time with his young family.

But there was of course his champion’s duty.

The chances he would be presenting a Green Jacket to a fellow Sheffield golfer looked to be over by the end of play on Saturday. Matt Fitzpatrick himself had endured a problematic Friday to slip away from the strong position he was in at the end of day one.

And on Saturday he failed to make the headway required to claw back ground on the likes of Ryder Cup team mate Justin Rose, who was looking to end his own Major drought.

Fitzpatrick will have learned plenty on his third appearance at Augusta, where he struggled to replicate his excellent performance from the previous visit.

But on a weekend where the elements played as much a role as skill and wit.

It may not have gone according to plan but Fitzpatrick will back. And so will Willett.

It is hard to imagine they will not be better golfers by the time they next drive down Magnolia Lane.