Golf

US Masters champion Danny Willett not getting carried away

Danny Willett will be competing in the Irish Open this weekend  
Tony McGee at the K Club

US MASTERS champion Danny Willett is still trying to come to terms with his new-found fame, but the 28-year-old Englishman isn't getting carried away.

Still, he'll be in the spotlight during the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open at the weekend. He didn't set the course on fire during the Players Championship last week, but that is understandable when one considers the heavy schedule a recently-crowned Masters champion has to shoulder.

“No-one really prepares you for the commitments you've got to do, on and off the golf course,” he said at Tuesday’s press conference.

“To actually realise time management has taken a whole different role. Really trying to get everything sectioned off and do things correctly. It has been a busy four weeks.”

He added: “It is really getting your days planned and making sure you give the correct amount of time to certain things - make sure that prople get the right interviews. You also have to give time to your family and have time to practice. It is just getting used to time management, really.

“Instead of doing interviews away from home, I've got people to come to the house to make it easier to look after the baby and help Nic [Nicola] out whilst doing that. Trying to kill two birds with one stone, a lot of the time.”

He agreed last week didn't quite go as planned: “Obviously, with the rain delay there, it didn't help. I was still feeling a bit tired and kind of getting used to what we had done. Getting used to everything, really.

“It is great to be back here, great to be back in Europe, supporting the Rory Foundation and the Irish Open. Hopefully, we can have a good week. Obviously, the crowds are going to be fantastic. I actually enjoy the experience of being here and, hopefully, I will get playing with one of the Irish lads and get some good crowd support out there - just have a good week.”

It is Willett's first visit to the K Club, but he watched the 2006 Ryder Cup there and liked what he saw of the course. He practised a little on Monday evening and did some more on Tuesday morning. After his press conference, he was heading out to “hit a few balls and go play the course, see what it's like”.

Slow play has always been a bugbear with some players, organisers and spectators alike. The R&A have brought out a 'Pace of Play' manual and this week will be the first the professionals will be carefully watched in terms of that.

Willett has his own thoughts on the subject: “It is always difficult when you get a golf course like they played last Saturday and they expect you to play 30 shots in a small amount of time. Nobody wants to see a six-hour round, then don't have the greens at 17 when it is going to be windy.

“We don't want to play a six-hour round but, sometimes, you are playing for a lot of money or world ranking points and there is a lot on the line. To take an extra 15 or 20 seconds over a shot could make a big difference. It can be worthwhile taking a fine or a penalty or whatever. I think it is a tricky one to get right,” he added.

The US Master is the only player who can win the Grand Slam of Majors this season, but that won't make any difference to his approach to the rest of the season, to which he has added the BMW International in Germany. He won't concentrate on the Grand Slam, but continue, as usual, with the rest of his schedule.

“There is only one man that I know who could actually peak his game for specific events and that was Tiger. I don't think anyone has been able to schedule things the same as he could do,” said Willett.

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