European Tour

Masters champion Willett laments downturn

Danny Willett (Getty Images)
Danny Willett (Getty Images)

Belek - Masters champion Danny Willett has dropped outside the top-10 on the world rankings and admits an end-of-season downturn in his game could not have come at a worst time.

The 29-year old Willett has enjoyed just two top-10s since being fitted last April with the famed Augusta National members green jacket.

Willett's frustration boiled over last Sunday after finishing in a distant share of 68th place in the Turkish Airlines Open at Belek in Turkey.

Two days earlier he tweeted after a second round 74: "Well this game is really kicking me in the nuts at the minute!! If it's not thing it's another. Haha."

Willett had journeyed to Turkey lying second on the Race to Dubai and needing to finish fifth or higher to move back to No 1 in the rankings, and a place he has enjoyed since his Major Championship triumph.

And Willett was so annoyed in posting a last round 75 in Turkey his immediate reaction was to withdraw from this week's Nedbank Challenge at Sun City in South Africa and the second of the three European Tour Final Series events.

"It couldn't happen at a worst time," he said in reference to his poor run of form.

"Things are not just going our way, nothing feels great."

Since finishing second in September's Italian Open Willett missed the cut in the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship, that included a third round 76, while he lost the No 1 ranking to Henrik Stenson in slumping to 75th place in the following weeks WGC-HSBC Champions event.

Willett's scores over the four days in Shanghai were 74, 78 and a pair of 75s and a far cry from the super final round 67 he shot to win the Masters.

His poor showing in Turkey has now seen Willett drop a further place on the World Rankings to be now ranked No 11.

This is the first time he's been outside the top-10 since moving from 12th to ninth in winning the Masters.


In fairness to the Sheffield-born golfer he is undergoing swing changes under the guidance of long-time coach, Peter Cowen.

"It just comes and goes as I would have a couple of good days and then a couple of bad days," said Willett.

"To be honest I don't really want to be out there playing golf."

Willett's name still appears in the entry list among those competing this week at Sun City and his management company indicated he's expected to take his place in the $7m event.

Also in the South African field is new Turkish Airlines Open winner Thorbjorn Olesen who jumped from 32nd to ninth on the Race to Dubai following his three-shot triumph in Belek.

Olesen's victory has also seen leap-frog 23 places to be the new world No 69.

Triple Major winning Padraig Harrington believes after Olesen collected a fourth European Tour victory, the next step for the 26-year old could be representing Europe in a Ryder Cup.

Olesen had been invited by one of four European Ryder Cup vice-captains in fellow Dane, Thomas Bjorn to join the team at Hazeltine as part of a learning process for Olesen.

And it was this experience Harrington believes could lead to Olesen becoming only the second Scandinavian player to win a major championship.

"When you are that close and watching other players as Thorbjorn was at Hazeltine, I am sure he could see he is every bit as good as them and in some way better, and that could only have helped him," said Harrington.

"I think it is a good learning experience for anybody, to be around in a situation like that with the best players in Europe playing in the Ryder Cup.

"You are around them all week and you see their strengths and weaknesses and you understand you have strengths and weaknesses and maybe not to be focussing on your own weakness so much because you can see that nobody's perfect."

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