Golf: Takeaways after Willett’s Masters triumph

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By Jason Fernandes

  • Danny Willett wins the Masters with a -5 finish
  • Jordan Spieth squandered a five shot lead on the back nine
  • Willett’s first major triumph

AUGUSTA, USA-  England’s Danny Willett took advantage of Jordan Spieth’s mishap to claim his first major title at The Masters Championship in Augusta.

If you missed the final day of the Masters last night you missed one of the most topsy turvy ends to a major in quite some time. Eventually Sheffield born Willett ended up taking home the green jacket with a stunning bogey-free 67 to beat defending champion Spieth and compatriot Lee Westwood for his maiden major.

As we all know majors are the pinnacle of golf so there is obviously a lot to take out of the 80th Masters and here’s what we learned about several top competitors.

Danny Willett

Result: WIN

Round Scores: 70-74-72-67

2015 Result: T38

It is amazing to think that if his wife did not give birth to their first child last week, the 28 year old would have missed the Masters altogether to be there and support her. So by playing this week it somewhat feels ironic he was the man to thrive.

Within the last year we have really seen the rise of Willett but unfortunately until now the game and mental side have not always been in sync. At last year’s Open championship at St Andrews he finished the opening two rounds just one behind the leader before falling back in the final rounds to somewhat of a disappointing finish. Only a few months ago at the Omega Desert Dubai Classic he showed just how clutch he was by sinking a great putt on the 72nd hole to clinch the title by one shot. Willett would then back it up with a fine showing at the WGC Cadillac event competing with the very best, and finishing T3 behind former Masters champions Adam Scott and Bubba Watson.

This week the Yorkshireman really did put it altogether however. Willett produced great golf in several very different conditions, putted great, which is a must at Augusta, and drove well hitting over ⅔ of fairways. Combine all those factors and there is no reason he did not deserve the green jacket in what only was his second Masters appearance. Moving on, if Willett can continue to drive and putt as well as he did, there is absolutely no reason the new world number nine can not add to his major count anytime soon.

Jordan Spieth

Result: T2

Round Scores: 66-74-73-73

2015 Result: WIN

It was his third appearance at Augusta and he finished once again with a top two finish, but unfortunately it is not the end result last year’s champion wanted. Despite leading from the very start a horrid back nine in the final round somewhat threw away the title but there is still a lot to take out of it.

For one, the American once again just proved how much this course suits his game. Despite driving poorly all week he led the first three rounds, and minus the quadruple bogey on 12, he probably would have defended his title. Only three men have ever defended their Masters title (Jack Nicklaus, Nick Faldo, Tiger Woods), and the fact that the 22 year old even came so close to joining such greats is a remarkable achievement in itself and one he and his fans should be proud of regardless of how it ended.

There is no doubt the two time major champion will be back next year ready to win the Masters once again but as for now his focus will be on defending his US Open title in June at Oakmont Country Club, a course which should suit his game.

Dustin Johnson

Result: T4

Round Scores: 73-71-72-71

2015 Result: T6

Yet again the tall American came so close to his maiden major, but he fell short at the end just like the 2010 PGA Championship and 2015 US Open. Johnson drove well all week and posted the best driving distances of any player over the four rounds, but it just wasn’t enough.

The short game was once again his biggest issue, just like at Chambers Bay last year where he three putted the 72nd hole to lose by one to Spieth- this year’s Masters sent memories of that back. Despite playing well all week, his putting let him down. When you miss putts your fellow competitors are making, there is no wonder the 31 year old has still yet to claim a major. It is pretty obvious now that if he is going to break the deadlock, he is going to have to have a great week putting because as good as his long game is, it can not win the biggest tournaments alone.

Matthew Fitzpatrick

Result: T7

Round Scores: 71-76-74-67

2015 Result: DNP

Perhaps the most surprising name of any of the finishers under or even par. Late last year at the British Masters, the young Englishman would end up catching his first professional golf title. The victory showed his potential and many wondered how good he could be, especially given his great career as an amateur.

It didn’t take long however for Fitzpatrick to reaffirm everyone’s thoughts. Not only did he match his fellow Sheffielder, Willett’s, 67 in the final round, he did so in style hitting six birdies and making more greens in regulation the whole tournament than anyone else- an impressive feat for any player. Sure there are rough edges in the young man’s game but given all the signs and how much he’s rapidly improving, it might not be long before we see him right at the very top of the game competing for majors.

Rory McIlroy

Result: T10

Round Scores: 70-71-77-71

2015 Result: 4th

Last year, McIlroy put in the best weekend. The Northern Irishman hit a -10 showing in the last two rounds to have his best ever finish at Augusta. This year however was a very different story, despite a good first round and a great second round in very windy conditions, McIlroy let it all go in the weekend playing incredibly subpar golf.

Still looking to complete the career grand slam with a win at the Masters, we once again saw the 26 year old has exactly what it takes to win the tournament . Unfortunately he has been unable to put together four solid rounds on this course. McIlroy will hope it is not long before he can break his Masters duck, but the longer he doesn’t win the green jacket, the harder it will become.

Jason Day

Result: T10

Round Scores: 72-73-71-73

2015 Result: T28

The world number one and favourite coming into the event started off in hot form making the turn in round in 5 under par, however it was short lived. Just like the Coca Cola Tour Championship last year, one poor hole changed everything and he was not the same beast for the rest of the tournament

What we did learn however is that if the Australian can keep up his best golf for four days at the Masters, there is every possibility he can run away with the event such as he did at last year’s PGA Championship, where he set the all time major score at -20. The 28 year old has everything in his game to do well at Augusta, he drives huge and is one of the best putters on tour. You have to think one day his time will finally come having come so close before in 2011 and 2013.

Overall a lot was learned about many players, but the real great news is that so many of the elite and potential future stars of the game finished as well as they did. We really could be entering a golden era of golf where there are many great rivals all competing for majors whilst playing quality golf. The next major is the US Open at Oakmont Country Club, and the last time a major was held there the winning score was +5, so it should be every bit as entertaining as the Masters.