Willett back to where it all began

Willett back to where it all began
Willett won the Omega Dubai Desert Classic in a thrilling finish last year

By James Jose

Published: Tue 31 Jan 2017, 9:00 PM

Last updated: Wed 1 Feb 2017, 3:50 PM

Danny Willett is back to where it all began last year, a year which most golfers dream of. And while the Englishman is under no illusions on how tough it will be in replicating it, it could be a tad more difficult with a certain Tiger Woods back to one of his favourite hunting grounds.
Willett won the Omega Dubai Desert Classic in a thrilling finish last year and that primed him to land the prestigious Masters and the Green Jacket at Augusta.
And that first Major spurred Willett to second in the Race to Dubai standings. In fact, Willett had a shot at it going into the season-ending DP World Tour Championship in Dubai, but then, eventual winner Henrik Stenson was too far a bridge to cross.
Willett looked back to an "amazing" season but said that it would perhaps be tough to recreate it. But he was excited at the prospect of seeing the legendary Tiger Woods back in the field. "This was the start of really what was an amazing season. I played some pretty good golf in the run up and then it was one of those weeks where everything kind of clicked nicely," Willett said at the Emirates Golf Club on Tuesday, as he remembered that birdie putt on the par-5 18th that clinched the title after being involved in a three-way tussle with compatriot Andy Sullivan and Spaniard Rafa Cabrera-Bello.
"You look at Augusta, I could draw on Dubai quite a lot, how I played and how I played under pressure and how I composed myself mentally and having to hole a few key putts at the right time. It's going to be hard to match last year, but I'm going to try my best to do so," he added.
Willett's eyes gleamed as he spoke about having Tiger Woods back in the fray.
"I've said it to everyone who's asked. Every event that we play on The European Tour, they are all fantastic golf events. And it's always nice when we get the lads from the PGA Tour coming over. But when Rory is here or when Tiger is here, it makes it that little bit extra special," he said.
"It's a shame obviously Rory is out with his injury, but if you had had Rory and Tiger, this would have been a massive week early on in the season. But to see Tiger playing last week, I watched pretty much every shot of his two rounds last week and it was just great seeing him back in action.
"And then to have him here this week, I think it's great for The European Tour, it's great for Dubai. Obviously it's a place he's coming back to; Tiger doesn't play events just because he wants to play them. He plays events because he knows that he's got a good chance when he turns up. He's played well around this golf course and he's got some good memories," he added.
And Willett wasn't reading much into Woods missing the cut at the Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines, his first PGA Tour event in almost 18 months and said it would be up to the field to stop Tiger.
"He's going to come here and try and win. And I think that's great for The European Tour to have, you know, arguably the greatest player of all time come to Dubai and to try and take that championship trophy away on Sunday.
"So there's a few of us that are going to try and stop him, but yeah, it's great to have him back. It's great to have him back playing and it's great for the game and fortunately enough, I'll be able to be around all week to witness it," added Willett.
james@khaleejtimes.com




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