Willett back in Augusta to defend Masters title

Willett won the first major title of his golfing career at Augusta past year but has not enjoyed anywhere near the same success in the months that have followed. If not for the opening hole meltdown on Friday, or even with just a double-bogey like he had on Thursday, Willett would be making the current cut.

That treacherous would trouble him spectacularly for a second time on Friday, hitting a shank on route a quadruple bogey eight.

But Willett shot 67 on that Sunday at Augusta, a score equaled by compatriots Paul Casey and Matt Fitzpatrick but surpassed by nobody - a score only one stroke shy of Spieth's opening-round 66 that stood as the best of that week.

"It's been a very hard year for Danny Willett, trying to live up to the expectation of Masters champion", former PGA player and current Golf Channel analyst Colin Montgomerie said.

"You're nearly hoping that you dropped all your shots just in one go, which is what we kind of did", Willett said.

Favourite Dustin Johnson is part of an all-American trio also comprising two-time Masters victor Bubba Watson and Jimmy Walker, while Olympic champion Justin Rose is set to play alongside world No3 Jason Day and Brandt Snedeker in another high-profile group. "Achieving what I did a year ago and performing under pressure how I did on Sunday [covering the last six holes in three-under as he carded a flawless 67 to finish three shots ahead of his compatriot, Lee Westwood, and defending champion Jordan Spieth], you come away and if you don't do that every time, you get a bit annoyed". "There's been some up-and-downs, but, you know, to be Masters champion for 12 months has been fantastic". "We've hit a lot of good golf shots all year, but haven't gotten anything". Y ou've achieved the greatest height in your game.

His victory at the WGC Match Play tournament previous year was his third title in three starts, continuing a dominating 12-month streak for the American.

Danny Willett will be around for the weekend at Augusta National Golf Club, but only as a spectator. "If you don't, it doesn't matter how much knowledge you have, it's just not going to help". Willett was heard to say: "I could do with this tree being removed". It's not that easy. "You can't just do it week in week out". They also tried to squeeze in a few practice holes before the weather turns nasty tomorrow.

How that impatience affects him this week in his first return trip since his victory is yet to be seen.

"Danny's a great individual and he's shown he is a great golfer", said Bjorn. "I was busy with family life", Willett said, "and I didn't quite realize, in fairness, how hectic and how chaotic it was going to be".

  • Julie Sanders