Unruffled Englishman Danny Willett donned the Green Jacket after claiming his first victory at a Major as defending champion Jordan Spieth wilted on the back nine in an enthralling final round of the Masters at Augusta last night.
Willett, who pockets $1.8m in prize money, finished three shots clear of Spieth, who carded a one-over-par 73 yesterday, and England’s Lee Westwood on two-under-par, while Paul Casey was a further shot behind, tied for fourth.
Former world No1 and four-time Major winner Rory McIlroy failed to instigate a dramatic final round surge as he hit a 71, which meant he tied for 10th, along with former US Open winner Justin Rose, with a final tournament score of one over.
Yorkshireman Willett, 28, was making only his second Augusta appearance and became the first Englishman since Nick Faldo in 1996 to win the Masters and the first European to do so in 17 years – Spain’s Jose Maria Olazabal won in 1999.
“It’s been crazy. You can’t really describe your emotions or your feelings,” said Willett. “We all go out there to try and play good golf and at the end of the day somebody has got to win a golf tournament and fortunately today was my day.
“My wife was born in about 10 minutes time 28 years ago while my son was due today and he came 12 or 13 days early to let me come and play. You talk about fate and everything that goes with it, it’s just been a crazy, crazy week.”
Although the wait for a European winner is over, the continent’s wider dominance was far-reaching. Seven of the top 14 were European, six were from the British Isles.
Spieth started the day with a one-shot lead and struck five birdies on the front nine, including four in a row, before successive bogeys at 10 and 11 opened the door for Willett, and coincided with the Sheffield player hitting consecutive birdies on 13 and 14.
Willett had reduced Spieth’s lead to a single shot before the 22-year-old Texan endured a nightmare 12th hole where he found both water and sand. A quadruple bogey left him one under and trailing Willett by three shots.
A birdie and an eagle on the back nine propelled former world No1 Westwood into contention, while America’s Dustin Johnson also refused to be thrown off course from vying for a maiden Major title until a double bogey on 17.
Willett – second to McIlroy in the Race to Dubai last season – maintained his poise and birdied the 16th, although Spieth retaliated with a birdie of his own on 15, only for a bogey on 17 to effectively put paid to his challenge.