The Masters: Today was my day, says elated Willett

Englishman crowned champion after Spieth blew huge lead in nightmare meltdown

Afp/afp/afp April 11, 2016
Willett (C) celebrates after being presented with the Green Jacket, which goes to the winner of the Masters, by defending champion Spieth (L). PHOTO: AFP

AUGUSTA: England’s Danny Willett was a shock winner of the 80th Masters on Sunday, firing a bogey-free, five-under-par 67 for a three-shot victory after a back-nine collapse by defending champion Jordan Spieth.

The 28-year-old Englishman, who shared 38th position last year in his Masters debut, captured the green jacket symbolic of victory at Augusta National as well as a $1.8 million top prize from the $10 million purse.

“You can’t really describe your emotions and feelings. Someone has got to win and today was my day,” said Willett. “I played great golf. It has been a fantastic week.”

Willett, five down to Spieth with six holes to play, birdied the par-5 13th, par-4 14th and par-3 16th to charge into the clubhouse while the 22-year-old American endured a nightmare meltdown with bogeys at 10 and 11 and a quadruple bogey at the par-3 12th.

“I just put a couple of weak swings on it and suddenly I’m not leading anymore,” said Spieth. “I’ll be disappointed with that one. It was a very tough 30 minutes for me. I hope I never experience it again.”

Willett finished 72 holes at five-under 283, with Spieth and English playing partner Lee Westwood sharing second on 286. Westwood, trying to win his first major title at age 42, shot 69 while Spieth, who defends his US Open title in June at Oakmont, fired a 73.

Spieth, as defending champion, presented Willett with the green jacket that he looked to make his own for most of the week, leading after all three prior rounds.

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McIlroy rues another miss

Rory McIlroy’s misery at the Masters continued as his bid to become just the sixth player to win all four majors again ended in despair.

Starting the day five shots behind leader Jordan Spieth, he never looked like mounting a comeback after an opening bogey at Augusta National. The four-time major winner came in with a creditable 71, but that left him on one-over for the tournament, six shots worse off than winner Danny Willett.

There is a problem with the course and the tournament, McIlroy admits, although he says that, at just 26, he is convinced that one day he will find a solution.

“Yeah, this is the one that I haven’t won and this is the one I want to win more than anything else,” he said. “I won a Claret Jug [British Open], I want to win more. I won a Wanamaker [PGA Championship], I won the US Open, but this is the one that I haven’t.”

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Title will come, says Day

World number one Jason Day and two-time major runner-up Dustin Johnson couldn’t make their Masters breakthroughs, but both departed Augusta National with confidence their green jacket time will come.

The two played alongside each other in the third-to-last pairing during the final round of the 80th Masters, but neither was able to mount a serious charge at the title won by England’s Danny Willett after defending champion Jordan Spieth’s quadruple-bogey nightmare at the par-3 12th.

“I’m sure he’s [Spieth] killing himself for it. But we all do it to ourselves,” said Day. “Hopefully he just learns from it and gets better and comes back stronger.”

Spieth’s disaster left him level second with England’s Lee Westwood and meant Australia’s Day would keep the top ranking despite sharing 10th on one-over par 289.

“I just didn’t feel quite comfortable with my swing,” said Day. “It’s hard to get anything going from there once you do that. My short game was still going well, especially the putting. So I just need to tidy up the long game a little bit.”

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Johnson shared fourth on one-under 287, but was proud of the way he fought back after a double bogey at the fifth.

The 31-year-old American birdied three of the next four holes and birdies at the par-5 13th and 15th had him within reach of Willett before a double bogey at 17 ended his hopes for his first major title.

“I’m doing all the right things,” said Johnson. “I hit it in all the right spots. I hit some great shots. I’m definitely pleased with the way I played.”

And both men are excited for next year’s Masters, world number eight Johnson — the highest-ranked player without a major title — anticipating better days after settling for his 11th top-10 major showing without a victory. 

Published in The Express Tribune, April 12th,  2016.

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