Sheffield golf star Danny Willett ‘would consider surgery to solve his back problem’

Danny Willett tees off  at Royal Birkdale. Photo: Richard Sellers/PA Wire.
Danny Willett tees off at Royal Birkdale. Photo: Richard Sellers/PA Wire.
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A disconsolate Danny Willett would consider surgery to solve his ongoing injury problems after another disappointing performance in the Open Championship.

Willett, who in April became the first reigning Masters champion to miss the cut at Augusta since Mike Weir in 2004, has withdrawn from three of his last six events with a back injury which has severely hampered his form.

The 29-year-old carded a final round of 71 to finish nine over par and 76th of the 77 players to make the cut at Royal Birkdale, only the second time he has managed to play a full tournament since the WGC-Mexico Championship on March 5.

And after experiencing the highs of claiming his first major title just 15 months ago, the Sheffielder is understandably growing frustrated at his lack of progress.

“We’re working pretty hard at home doing stuff but the week before Birkdale we only started to hit balls on Friday,” Willett said.

“We had five days completely on our back, went and had an MRI, saw a back specialist, so in terms of preparation for a golf tournament it’s not amazing, especially when you know you’re struggling.

“When you’re struggling you want to hit more balls, (but) you can’t hit more balls because you’re not allowed to ‘cause otherwise you’ll injure yourself more. It’s getting a fine balance of what to do and how to do it and hopefully we get a few breaks and can get a couple of nice results.

“Four rounds is great, but you’re still finishing virtually last. You’re picking up points for the Order of Merit so you’re not losing ground too much on people, but when that starts to become a slight positive that’s when I’m not really that fussed.

“The L5 (disc) and the sacrum were out from the x-ray which is why it hurts when I rotate on it. I was on Voltarol all week and wasn’t doing much practice.

“In an ideal world we’d have taken a few months off but it’s a time of year when you need to be playing well. The Rolex Series events are all seven million dollars and you chuck in a couple of majors and WGC events - if you take three months off you’re going to fall a hell of a long way behind everyone on the Order of Merit and world rankings.”

Asked if surgery could be the answer, Willett added: “I don’t know. I’d do anything that helped.

“I don’t think it does need surgery, it’s more just getting it in line and the only thing that irritates it massively is swinging poorly.”