Who Is Danny Willett? 5 Things to Know About the New Masters Champion Who Unseated Jordan Spieth
Danny Willett almost missed The Masters tournament
brightcove.createExperiences(); One man’s loss is another man’s gain.
“Golf happened,” the victor told ESPN after Sunday’s win. “Things went our way and we got fortunate a couple of times and now we’re able to sit here as a Master champion.”
Willett came out a surprise winner on Sunday, facing off against Spieth, a 22-year-old Texas golfer who tied Tiger Woods’ record in 2015 to win the Augusta, Georgia, tournament.
But just who is Willett? – besides the new owner of that fancy green blazer. Here are five things you need to know about the England native.
1. He Almost Skipped The Masters – To Welcome His Newborn Son
With his wife, Nicole, originally expected to give birth on the day of the tournament, Willett planned to skip the event.
However, she gave birth to their son, Zachariah James, on March 30.
“Well well well!! Me and @Nicolewillett88 are home with our new addition Zachariah James Willett!!! Mum and baby doing awesome!! #daddio,” he wrote in a tweet last month.
The proud wife and mother took to her own Twitter account to celebrate the family’s latest victories.
“New baby, New green Jacket all in less than 2 weeks..so proud of @Danny_Willett for making history!” she tweeted on Sunday. “Hurry home now so we can celebrate!”
2. He Ended a 20-Year Drought For England
Willett’s win on Sunday marks the first time an English player has taken home the green jacket since 1996, ESPN reports.
“We talk about fate, talk about everything else that goes with is,” Willett told ESPN. “It’s just a crazy, crazy week.”
Nick Faldo’s 1996 Masters win was the last for the U.K. and his win and Willett’s have striking similarities.
Both shot a 5-under-67 and won after their opponents had shocking meltdowns on the green.
3. He Played With Sheep
Born in Sheffield to Steve and Elisabet, Willet told The Telegraph that he would sometimes travel miles away to practice.
“We used to go to Anglesey to play a par three course in the middle of a sheep field,” he said.
He added: “You skip it forward 17 years and you’ve got an invite to the Masters. It’s just a bit crazy, really.”
4. He Quit School at 16
“I hated it,” Willett told The Telegraph of why he quit his local college course after a month.
He returned to school eventually, though. Just not in England.
Willett attended Jacksonville State in Alabama for two years, but headed back to England without a degree, according to The Telegraph.
Just a few years later, in 2008, Willett turned pro after winning the English Amateur Championship in 2007.
5. He Calls His Dad the Best Sports Psychologist He Knows
Willett’s father is a Church of England vicar – the equivalent of a reverend or pastor.
He told The Telegraph that his father, Steve, was supportive and dropped him off at a local golf course as a kid.
“When I came home, a good day wasn’t about whether I’d shot 65, but whether I was all right,” he said.
“You see these parents force the game down the throats of their kids and it’s so destructive.”
He added: “I’ve been to a few sports psychologists, but the best one I know is my dad.”