Danny Willett wins in the desert

Danny Willett gave his Ryder Cup and Olympics hopes a huge boost by holding his nerve at the Dubai Desert Classic.

Sunday, 7th February 2016, 11:44 am
Updated Sunday, 7th February 2016, 12:29 pm
Danny Willett at the Dubai Desert Classic

The Hackenthorpe golfer claimed the four tournament win of his professional career by producing some superbly consistent golf over four days in the Middle East.

“It’s big,” Willett said of winning a big event so early in a Ryder Cup year.

“You try not to think about it when you’re out on the golf course.

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“But they’re two massive goals of mine, the Olympics and the Ryder Cup.

“It’s just about doing the same as what I’ve been doing over the last few years and taking it day-by-day, week-by-week.

“Hopefully come August I’ll be in Rio at the Olympics and then in September with [European captain] Darren Clarke at Hazeltine for the Ryder Cup.”

There were no time for celebrations for Willett who will fly back in the early hours of Monday morning to be with pregnant wife Nicole.

But he returns home with a giant trophy following a stunning birdie putt from 15 feet, under pressure after being joined in the lead by a pair of rivals as he played the final hole.

A seven under par third round saw Willett carry the lead into the final round at the Emirates Golf Club.

While he wobbled at times with bogeys on the second, ninth and 14th, the 28-year-old was largely consistent, hovering around the -2 mark for the day throughout.

He would ultimately finish on -3 for the day and -19 for the tournament, one ahead of fellow Englishman Andy Sullivan and Rafa Cabrera-Bello of Spain.

A superb final round charge by Sullivan put the pressure on Willett, something the Warwickshire player turned up on the 18th.

Sullivan joined him atop the leaderboard with a birdie on the last, shortly after Willett had played his tee shot on the 18th into the rough, forcing a lay-up.

And the pressure would only increase when Willett’s playing partner Cabrera-Bello made a birdie putt to tease a three way play-off.

But moments later, Willett made a superb putt to secure the win and a potential place in the world’s top 15.

He said: “The pressure hasn’t been on quite as much with the couple of tournaments I’ve won recently.

“This one just showed some real guts.

“I played some good golf but Sully and Rafa just didn’t go away.

“We were hoping to stay on the fairway on the last but that just seemed impossible this week.

“To get up and down from 95 yards was just money.

“Me and Jonny [caddy Jonathan Smart] were reading the putt and had a good line.

“He just said to me ‘keep your head down and hit it.’

“It’s not the easiest putt on that green.”

Meanwhile, Willett’s fellow Sheffield golfer Matt Fitzpatrick fired a level par round of 72 on the final day to finish in a tie for 44th place.

The 21-year-old enjoyed his best day on Saturday, finishing -4 to move onto -5 for the tournament.

But he failed to make any further progress on an up-and-down fourth day, though he finished stronger to ensure a level par round.

The European Tour moves on to South Africa next week for the Tshwane Open but neither Willett nor Fitzpatrick have entered.