Danny Willett confirms long stint in United States for 2019 season

Danny Willett with caddy Sam Haywood
Danny Willett with caddy Sam Haywood
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Danny Willett has confirmed he has accepted full PGA Tour status and intends to spend much of 2019 competing in the United States.

The Sheffield golfer has declared his intention to begin the new season playing primarily on the US Tour before returning to European Tour competition towards the end of the year.

“We’ve taken full PGA Tour status,” Willett said.

“We’re probably going to play 18, 20 events over there.

“The plan was always to play the Final Series here and kind of sit down in December and work out how easy it is to get our numbers up in America early enough.”

The 30-year-old admits 2019 will be a busy year for him as he attempts to play in enough events to maintain his status on the PGA and European Tours.

With his ranking not currently high enough to secure a place in the World Golf Championship events, he knows he cannot afford to miss many American events in the first half of the year.

But he is determined to maintain the healthy body and mind he was worked hard to recover after a difficult couple of years.

He said: “When I won the Masters I tried playing both tours and I got ill and I got injured.

“I had about four or five events I pulled out of and all of a sudden to get your minimum number is really, really tough.

“You’ve got to play a good amount of events over there.

“I’m not in the World Golf Championships. I’m not in the top 50 so I’m falling behind.

“And there’s no exemptions over there for if you’re not in the World Golf Championships.

“It’s going to be a busy old year I think.

“We’re going to play predominantly out there for the first half of the season and then hopefully predominantly in Europe the second half of the season.

“Hopefully you play well and you get in the World Golf Championships and it does make your life a hell of a lot easier.”

Willett has previously turned down full PGA Tour status, suggesting he was not ready to commit to moving his family to America on a long term basis.

Changes to the European Tour schedule – with more prestigious tournaments towards the end of the year, including the flagship BMW PGA Championships at Wentworth switching to September – have forced numerous European players to give close consideration to their own personal playing calendars for 2019.

Rory McIroy has caused controversy by suggesting he will give up his European Tour status by not competing in the minimum four events outside Majors and World Golf Championship events.

Current regulations state giving up a European Tour card disbars a player from the opportunity to become a Ryder Cup captain or vice captain in the future.