Danny Willett hailed a “ridiculously awesome” 12 days in his life after claiming his first major title with a dramatic victory in the 80th Masters.
Willett’s wife Nicole had been due to give birth to the couple’s first child on Sunday, but Zachariah James Willett arrived on March 29 to allow his proud new father to play in the year’s first major.
The 28-year-old was the 89th and last player to register after only arriving at Augusta National on Monday, but took advantage of a dramatic collapse from defending champion Jordan Spieth, who then had to present Willett with the famous green jacket.
“It’s just crazy, just surreal,” Willett said after a flawless closing 67 gave him a three-shot victory over Spieth and playing partner Lee Westwood. “Words can’t really describe the feelings and emotions. I’ve won a couple of golf tournaments around the world, but this is just a different league. It’s a major. It’s the Masters.
“I’m not quite sure which is better, this day or last Tuesday. I always said that I wouldn’t come here if he wasn’t born by now, which stuck. Fortunately enough, he listened to my prayers and he came early.
“It’s just been the most ridiculously awesome 12 days I guess. Words can’t describe what I’m feeling right now, but words definitely can’t describe how I was feeling last Tuesday when you get to hold something that me and my wife have made. It’s just been incredibly surreal.”
Spieth had birdied four holes in a row from the sixth to reach the turn with a five-shot lead and seemingly guarantee he would join Jack Nicklaus, Nick Faldo and Tiger Woods in winning back-to-back Masters titles.
However, the world number two - who had led for seven rounds in succession following his wire-to-wire victory last year - then dropped shots at the 10th and 11th and ran up a quadruple-bogey seven on the 12th after hitting two balls into Rae’s Creek in front of the green.
Spieth, who has now finished second, first and second in his three Masters appearances, said: “It’s tough, really tough. We still have the confidence that we are a closing team, we can close. I have no doubt about that ability. It was just a very tough 30 minutes for me that I hopefully never experience again.
“But boy, you wonder about not only just the tee shot on 12, but why can’t you just control the second shot, you know, and make five at worse, and you’re still tied for the lead. Big picture, this one will hurt. It will take a while.
“I knew the lead was five with nine holes to play. And I knew that those two bogeys weren’t going to hurt me. But I didn’t take that extra deep breath and really focus on my line on 12. Instead I went up and I just put a quick swing on it.”