Back in December, Chubby Chandler knew how serious Danny Willett was about being a world-class golfer.
“He went to get his blood and sweat tested, just to get better,” said Chandler, who founded ISM sports management agency, of which the new Masters Tournament champion is a client.
“You know when you have someone who wants to be good,” Chandler said Sunday after Willett won the Masters by three shots after trailing Jordan Spieth by five with nine holes to go.
Chander said Willett “goes out and does his thing properly. He lives his life unbelievably well. He deserves everything he gets because he’s meant to be a good player.”
Willett agreed that “there’s a lot of hard work that goes on behind the scenes, and it’s the things that a regular person doesn’t really see. They don’t see the work you put in, not just on the golf course but off it with certain aspects – gym, nutrition, all these things.”
There’s even more on Willett’s plate now with the birth of his first child, Zach, 13 days ago.
“It’s all good and well practicing for 12 hours a day, but I don’t think that’s going to get you many brownie points if you’ve got to do the dishes, change the little one’s nappie and do other things like that,” Willett said. “Time management, weighing everything up and making sure that you’re not only trying to be a great golfer, but you’re trying to be a great person, husband, father, all that stuff as well.”
With Zach too young to travel, new mom Nicole stayed home with the newborn during the Masters.
She watched as her husband opened with rounds of 70-74-72 while playing in a brutal prevailing northwest wind that gusted to 35 mph at times.
Then, in a relatively calm final round, Willett tied for the day’s low round with 5-under-par 67, making birdies on five of his final 13 holes while playing a bogey-free round. That included clutch birdies on Nos. 14 and 16 after Spieth had imploded with a quadruple-bogey 7 on No. 12 and Willett, who was three groups in front of Spieth on the course, had taken the lead.
“Danny played really well, controlled his nerves,” said Willett’s final-round playing partner Lee Westwood, who shot 69 to tie for second place with Spieth, who had 73.
Chandler calls the Masters victory the “start of the journey” for Willett, vowing that Willett won’t be distracted by the fact he’s now a major champion. “He knows what he’s trying to do,” Chandler said.
It helped that Willett was paired in the final round with fellow Englishman Westwood, who is also a ISM client.
“I’ve played a lot with Lee over the last couple of years since joining ISM,” Willett said. “One of the things I think they have helped me do is obviously play with the likes of Lee and Darren (Clarke) and be comfortable playing around such great players. I couldn’t have asked for a better pairing, really, for a Sunday in a major when you’re both in contention.”
Willett and Westwood headed a British Invasion in the 80th Masters. Fellow Brits in the top 10 were Paul Casey (tied for fourth), Matthew Fitzpatrick (tied for seventh after a final-round 67) and Justin Rose (tied for 10th).
Willett, 28, and Fitzpatrick, 21, were both born in Sheffield, a city in Yorkshire, England. Westwood, 42, is also a Yorkshireman.
“Those are two young players who are going to be proper players,” Chandler said.
Chandler called the showing “great for the European Tour, great for English golf, great for Danny Willett and great for Yorkshire, too. We’ve got a lot of Yorkshiremen and they’re all pretty good. What a day we had.”
Willett’s victory was the first by a European since Spain’s Jose Maria Olazabal won in 1999, and the first by an Englishman since Nick Faldo in 1996. At the time, Olazabal’s victory made it 11 European winners in the previous 19 Masters, starting with Spain’s Seve Ballesteros in 1980.
“Hopefully we’ll start seeing European winners again,” said Westwood, who has three top-three finishes in the Masters.