Golf Comment: Danny Willett’s European Masters win is sign of changing of English guard

Sam Torrance
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Willett is ranked No24 in the world (Source: Getty)
Danny Willett’s triumph at the European Masters on Sunday, his second win in eight months, was a great response to going close at the Open a week earlier, but it was also symptomatic of a wider trend.
It was further evidence that a changing of the guard is taking place in English golf, with Willett at the forefront and followed closely by the likes of Chris Wood, James Morrison and Andy Sullivan.
All four of those men have notched wins on the European Tour this season, while Willett’s latest victory was part of an English 1-2-3 that also included young compatriots Matt Fitzpatrick and Tyrrell Hatton.
While the likes of Lee Westwood, without a win on the European or PGA Tours since mid-2012, appear to be fading, Willett, who tied for sixth at the Open, is now up to a career-high 24th in the world rankings – above Westwood and Ian Poulter and second highest of all Englishmen, after Justin Rose.
I must say I do like the 27-year-old from Sheffield’s game. His swing repeats and he has a very strong grip; those who can play well with a strong grip tend to do very well indeed.
Of that group of English winners, I have also been impressed with Wood, 27. He is perhaps the best swinger of that bunch, and I remember he holed a bunker shot under severe pressure at the 17th hole at the Seve Trophy when I was captain a couple of years ago.
They are all multi-talented, though, and their emergence can only be good news for English and European golf.
Also bouncing back from a near miss at St Andrews last week – and continuing fine form with the US PGA Championship just a fortnight away – was Jason Day. The very impressive Australian birdied the last three holes and whacked one drive, at the 17th, fully 385 yards on his way to pipping Bubba Watson to the Canadian Open.
Hats off too to Marco Dawson for a fantastic win at the Senior Open at Sunningdale. The American is something of a journeyman, and he wouldn’t mind me saying that, so to shoot a 64 and birdie the last to hold off Bernhard Langer and land his first senior Major was a great achievement.
I was privileged to play a part too – and pleased to make the cut, although less so with what followed – in what was a great event. The course held up beautifully despite the weather, and it was a fine advertisement for the tournament and seniors golf generally.
Two interesting events are in prospect this week. I’m heading to Scotland to commentate on the inaugural Paul Lawrie Match Play at Murcar Links, which promises to be a great and welcome return to straight knock-out match play golf, rather than the round-robin format sponsors favour.
Across the water, meanwhile, Rose and Sullivan are among those due to play the Quicken Loans National – hosted by a certain Tiger Woods. Can the former world No1 shine again at last? I’m not too sure but you never know.
Sam Torrance OBE is a multiple Ryder Cup-winning golfer and media commentator. Follow him on Twitter @torrancesam

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