Danny Willett Effect in evidence as Andrew Johnston leads English charge in wake of Masters with Spanish Open victory

 
Sam Torrance
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Open de Espana - Day Four
The Spanish Open was Londoner Johnston's first win on the European Tour (Source: Getty)

Nothing breeds success quite like success, and it is no coincidence that two Englishmen challenged for the week’s main titles on both sides of the Atlantic just days after Danny Willett’s Masters victory.

Seeing a contemporary like Willett, 28, winning at Augusta last week, the likes of Andrew Johnston, just one year his junior, will have thought: ‘If he can do it then why can’t I?’.

Read more: How analytics helped Willett win Masters

And so it was wonderful to see north Londoner Johnston do just that and claim his first European Tour title with a one-shot win at the Spanish Open on Sunday. It’s a huge step for him.

To do so he had to see off the likes of tournament host Sergio Garcia on a difficult course in Valderrama and withstand the unfamiliar pressure that comes with being at the top of the leaderboard.

Lowry-like sturdy frame

I watched it all and I was delighted for Johnston. He’s a friend of my son’s and seems to be a very amicable young man. He’s also a real talent. He swings very nicely, and his style is similar to Shane Lowry’s; he and the Irishman both have big, sturdy frames.

The 2014 Challenge Tour order of merit winner seems to be on a steady upward curve, having also won a sports car with a hole in one at the PGA Championship last year, which he celebrated by chest-bumping a friend. He’s a character, and the world needs those.

He wasn’t the only Englishman to shine this week. James Morrison, who finished one shot behind Garcia in a tie for fourth, played beautifully and looked as though he would win at one stage.

Garcia would probably have won if he had sunk an eagle chance at 17 and not bogeyed the last, but his closing 67 was still a fantastic performance from the world No15. It’s very difficult to win an event when you’re hosting as there is so much going on off the course.

Donald back on form

Completing the Willett Effect was Luke Donald, who just missed out on a first title for three years by finishing second – for the fourth time in the same event – at the RBC Heritage in South Carolina.

It was great to see the English former world No1 back on form, though he was edged out by South African Branden Grace, who continued his rise by securing a maiden PGA Tour title.

Finally, it was interesting to see Bryson DeChambeau follow up an impressive Masters debut with a tie for fourth in his first tournament as a professional.

The reigning US Amateur champion, 22, is certainly a unique player as all of his irons are the same length. It’s a completely different theory on how to play the game, but it seems to be working for him.

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