Danny Willett shaking off rust ahead of Players Championship
DANNY WILLETT admits he has hardly spent any productive time on the golf course since donning the Masters green jacket, but is confident he will be ready to hit the ground running again when he tees off at the Players Championship in Sawgrass.
Willett claimed his first Major championship last month as he held off Jordan Spieth and Lee Westwood by three shots in a thrilling final round at Augusta. The 28-year-old Yorkshire man has found himself a man very much in demand since that life-changing moment, which has seen him climb to a career-best world ranking of number nine, as well as open doors for the Olympics and Ryder Cup later this year.
However, after wife Nicole gave birth to son Zachariah shortly before the Masters, Willett has had plenty to occupy whatever family time he could grab in and around numerous formal commitments as the latest wearer of the green jacket.
"It has been a bit of chaos back home with media interviews and stuff, so it has not really been a quiet four weeks I have been expecting, but in a good way obviously," Willett said.
"Every spare minute we have had, we would lock the door and tried to have some alone time, but I have had to obviously go to do media bits with the jacket and stuff, which was pretty cool speaking to different people about things, but I don't think I have been doing anything too daft... and I don't take the jacket to the snooker club.
"So [yes], I still had a bit of downtime, but I have not played as much golf as I would've liked back at home for various reasons, so yes, it is good to be back with the guys practising. Hopefully, we can get off to a good start this week."
Willett added at a press conference: "I played one round on Saturday with my pals and then played nine holes yesterday, which was the only time I have been on the golf course in the last month.
"I am a little bit rusty, so will try and get some work done this week, am going to check the golf course out this afternoon so hopefully, come Thursday, will have shook off a little bit of that."
Willett has agreed to join the PGA Tour, which has awarded him a five-year exemption, but despite all of the obvious added attention, the Rotherham Golf Club honorary member intends to keep himself very much grounded.
"Public expectations are what they are," said Willett, who also won the Dubai Desert Classic at the start of February.
"I have got my own set of expectations of what I want to do for myself, so am not really too fussed about what everyone else thinks. I am just trying to do my bit and, if I do what I have done over the last 18 months-two years, then I have proved to myself I can do some pretty special things."
Willett added: "I will approach it [Sawgrass] the same as I did Augusta and as I did the week before that. I will take care of my little jobs every day and then hopefully, if you do all that, you can shoot some good numbers."
American Brandt Snedeker and fellow Englishman Justin Rose will tee off along with Willett from the 10th on Thursday morning. Willett is looking forward to playing alongside his good friend Rose, who triumphed at the 2013 US Open and was runner-up at Augusta last year.
"When you look at the pedigree we have had in the [English] players, it is surprising we have not won more Majors as a country, but hopefully there is a few more to come," Willett added.