Willett claims remarkable Masters win as Spieth folds


There were echoes of 1996 at Augusta as Danny Willett capitalised on a truly sensational collapse from Jordan Spieth to claim his maiden major title at the Masters.

A bogey-free 67 - the joint-lowest score on Sunday - saw world number 12 Willett end the tournament at five under, three shots clear of Spieth and Lee Westwood, becoming the first British winner at Augusta since Nick Faldo earned the last of his three green jackets 20 years ago.

Faldo's final Masters triumph came after Greg Norman famously threw away a six-shot lead over the last 18 holes, yet there was an even bigger shock on this occasion as reigning champion Spieth folded spectacularly, having been five clear with nine to play.

Spieth appeared all but certain to secure an unprecedented second wire-to-wire win in succession after birdieing four holes in a row from the sixth to reach seven under.

However, a remarkable eight-shot swing followed. Spieth shot bogeys at 10 and 11 before a horrendous seven at the short 12th - where he found the water twice - as Willett coolly improved his score with back-to-back birdies on 13 and 14.

Another gain at 16 put Willett in control of the tournament, amid late challenges from Westwood and Dustin Johnson that ultimately came to nothing, and the 28-year-old held his nerve brilliantly to record two closing pars, with a determined late rally from Spieth proving in vain.

As recently as last month, Willett had not even been certain to participate in the Masters as he awaited the arrival of his first child - due on the day of the final round at Augusta.

However, wife Nicole gave birth to Zachariah James last week and Willett - already established as a leading name on the European Tour - can now celebrate a stunning breakthrough success that puts him among world golf's elite.

Spieth, meanwhile, must reflect on the biggest setback of his illustrious career to date, although the manner in which he finished his round - playing the last six holes in one under par - hinted at the strong mentality the world number two is renowned for.

While errors at the start of the inward nine brought back-to-back dropped shots for Spieth, nobody could have anticipated the drama that unfolded at the 12th. After coming up short off the tee and finding Rae's Creek, the leader prompted gasps of amazement by chunking his next shot into the water, before then finding a back bunker and getting up and down for a miserable quadruple-bogey seven.

All of a sudden, Willett and Westwood were the frontrunners - the latter chipping in for eagle at 15 to close in on his playing partner.

Yet as Westwood (69) and Dustin Johnson (71) faded, Willett remained solid, extending his lead with a brilliant two on the 16th before parring home.

Birdies at 13 and 15 gave Spieth an outside shot at providing another twist in the tale, but his challenge ended with a bogey on 17, prompting jubilant celebrations from Willett as he watched on amid attempts to update his wife on the phone.

As the likes of Hideki Matsuyama (level par for the tournament), Jason Day (+1), Rory McIlroy (+1) and Bernhard Langer (+6) failed to contend for glory on the final day, Paul Casey and J. B. Holmes finished with respective rounds of 67 and 68 to share fourth with Johnson at one under.

Smylie Kaufman, second after 54 holes, finished the week tied for 29th after an 81, while Bryson DeChambeau finished as the leading amateur at five over and there were final-day holes-in-one for Shane Lowry, Davis Love III and Louis Oosthuizen, who dramatically aced 16 via a deflection off Holmes' ball.