Golfer Danny Willett hails 'fantastic week' after 'awesome' US Masters win


Golfer Danny Willett has become the first Briton to win the US Masters in 20 years, declaring the victory "awesome".

The 28-year-old from Sheffield, who also became a father for the first time just days before the tournament, said it had been a "fantastic week".

The Englishman clinched victory after the defending champion, American Jordan Spieth, suffered a collapse in the final round.

His family have spoken of their pride at the win, with one of Willett's brothers even becoming a bit of a star in his own right for a quirky Twitter commentary of the game into the small hours.

The golfer's parents, the Reverend Stephen and Elisabet Willett, said they had watched their son's "meteoric" rise in recent years open-mouthed.

The retired vicar confessed to having kept his son off school in his younger days after late sessions on the course.

He told the BBC Radio 4 Today programme: "He (Danny) has always thought his chances were good. I have never been particularly up with golf - I play it but I had no idea that he could do this. It's wonderful."

Mrs Willett said he first took up the sport during childhood holidays in Anglesey when their father would take them to play golf.

"Gradually Danny got better and better than all the rest of them and we thought maybe there was something there," she said.

Mr Willett said they had later argued when he used to keep their son off school so he could improve his golf.

"Every Wednesday - my wife used to argue with me - I'd take him to a golf club, drop him off, pick him up at 8 o'clock at night and get told off for keeping him off school," he said.

Mrs Willett joked that her husband used to write "the most appalling" excuses for keeping him off school.

She said: "He used to say Danny wasn't in school yesterday but he's here today, and that used to be it for years and years. But the PE department, the better he got the more they supported him so the school in the end was fantastic."

The new champion left school at 16. He quit a local college course after a month before attending Jacksonville State University in Alabama for two years.

Speaking shortly after the big win, Willett told CBS: "It's awesome.

"We played great golf today. It's been a fantastic week. We had to go out and shoot a good score and put a little pressure on and luckily we have done that."

Willett came close to not even playing in the tournament as his wife's due date for their first child was on Sunday, but their son, Zachariah James, was born via Caesarean section a week ahead of the tournament.

Wife Nicole caddied for Willett in the par-three pre-tournament contest on the eve of his debut in last year's Masters, in which he came 38th.

Rebecca Willett, Danny's sister-in-law, called it "fate" that the baby had arrived early, adding: "It's all been crazy and we're all so proud of him."

Willett's brother Matthew, a firefighter who used to caddy for the new Masters champion, said his brother's career had started out of the sporty family's sibling rivalry.

"We used to go down to the pitch and putt and he seemed to be the one that took to it best. Well, obviously!", he said, laughing.

Another brother Peter, a teacher in Birmingham, joked that he had "won Twitter" after giving an amusing online commentary during the game.

Tweeting as @P_J_Willett he wrote: "When I'm too tired to teach a good lesson tomorrow, and some kid spits at me, I'm just gonna smile and say 'I won Twitter' *drops mic."

Mr Willett told ITV's Good Morning Britain on Monday morning that the news of his brother's win was "surreal".

He said: "It's just odd, it's so odd. He's done something that so few people are ever going to do. I want to be slightly more verbose but I can't come up with anything other than surreal. It's just incredible."

The golfer's father added: "The last few years have been meteoric. We've sat here with our mouths open. He's in a different world at the moment. He's living the dream."

Willett is the first European since Jose Maria Olazabal in 1999 to don the Green Jacket - the winner's prize - at the Augusta National Golf Club in Georgia.

The last UK winner of the first major of the season was Nick Faldo in 1996. This is Willett's first major title.

Bookmaker Coral has already installed the golfer at 6-1 to be the 2016 Sports Personality of the Year. He was 66-1 with Coral before the Masters got under way on Thursday.