Danny Willett may be the son of a vicar but he has sometimes lacked belief.
Who can forget his 2016 Masters victory? At 29 years old, Willett had the golfing world at his feet and he was ready to show the critics his win was no fluke at Augusta National.
Then it happened, out of absolutely nowhere. Willett was gone, mentally and physically. He dropped down the world rankings after his monumental victory and took a while to emerge from the wilderness.
He questioned everything. Even himself. What had gone so desperately wrong to endure a slump this huge when success should be forthcoming? Now was the moment to let the good times roll, surely?
His struggles to the weaker minded could have defined a career. Willett may have thought there was a bigger reason at hand for his monumental woes. But he was going to battle on.
It wasn’t easy though. After he won the Green Jacket, he broke 70 only 21 times while his best finish post-Masters was a second Italian Open in September 2016 to Francesco Molinari.
Two holes to go.— The European Tour (@EuropeanTour) October 3, 2021
Two shots clear. @Danny_Willett is looking to become the first man to win on his birthday on the European Tour since Ernie Els at the 2004 HSBC World Match Play Championship.#DunhillLinks pic.twitter.com/PJ1N1Qp2Ky
He grew up with Christian values and believed that even though he was born with a natural talent he had to nurture it constantly to get anywhere.
At times he looked absolutely downtrodden. He reportedly had to speak to a mind coach where not even playing altogether was a consideration.
This was a turning point. And it was so simple. You don’t have to play golf, his mental coach reportedly told a dejected Willett.
“Of course I do,” Willett told the Guardian. “This is what I’ve been working on since I was 11 years old.” Then his mind coach told him: Get back on the horse then. Go and get it done.
And how. Willett’s return to the fold shows us why this game is so beautiful and why the lowest of the lows when he struggled to get out of bed were all worth it.
After he won at Augusta National Willett reportedly took several months to come to terms with what he did at the 80th Masters when he seized on an almighty collapse from Jordan Spieth.
Since then, Willett managed to break his duck with a win at the 2018 DP World Tour Championship in Dubai before following that up with a sensational win at the 2019 BMW PGA Championship.
The moment @Danny_Willett secured victory in St. Andrews #DunhillLinks pic.twitter.com/gBb4c9mui0— The European Tour (@EuropeanTour) October 3, 2021
Another poor spell emerged. Then a deadly virus turned the world on its head and Willett had to contend with some health issues meaning his Alfred Dunhill Links Championship win might come as a surprise.
“It must feel to everyone at home like this has come out of the blue but I’ve been practising well and I think I’ve proven that when I’m in position to win I know what to do,” Willett told Sportsmail.
He is right. When he is in a position to win, he knows how to close. Willett doubted his career would take off again after his Masters victory but now he’ll know the next win is just around the corner.
The son of a vicar may have lacked belief when he thought he his name might have turned into the answer of a quiz question.
Who won the 2016 Masters then failed to win again in his professional career?
Not Danny Willett.
The belief is there now.
Tonight (Tuesday) on Golfing World @AnnaWhiteley walks the course with 2016 Masters champ @Danny_Willett - @SkySportsGolf, 6pm #GolfingWorld pic.twitter.com/v7nZgs7Cfo— Golfing World (@GolfingWorld) November 7, 2017