It went right down to the wire, but Danny Willett got his reward for a week of near-faultless golf when he won a fantastic duel with Jon Rahm for the BMW PGA Championship on Sunday at Wentworth.
I was very impressed by both men but especially Willett, who holed a 40ft putt to make a miraculous bogey five at 11 when he might easily have taken six or seven.
That, after following in Rahm’s birdie putt at the previous hole, kept the Englishman in front and halted his rival’s charge – and that was absolutely huge.
Willett then played one of the shots of the week out of a bunker and around trees to find the 13th green and make par. Even still, it wasn’t really over until Rahm landed in water on 18.
The Yorkshireman shot into the top 10 of the world rankings by winning the Masters in 2016 but after missing the cut at Wentworth 12 months ago had slipped as far as No462.
His comeback gathered momentum with a big win at the DP World Tour Championship late last year, though, and his latest title has lifted him back up to No31.
Full of energy
Willett is swinging beautifully, with great rhythm, and looks in total control.
Last week he hit very few bad shots – he made four bogeys and one double bogey in total – and when he did he recovered well.
He has spoken about enjoying golf again and he certainly looked happy, even in the odd moment of adversity.
He is full of energy so it is about controlling that. To a degree he seems to be playing within himself.
Majors will be back in his sights now. We know that Augusta suits him and, although it is a long way off, he will relish going back there next year.
Rahm was wounded by falling short but he didn’t do much wrong. The rain turned it into a totally different course on Sunday and Willett just played better. He won it; Rahm didn’t lose it.
The Spaniard is on a terrific run of form, though – he hasn’t finished worse than 13th in his last nine outings – and there are some big tournaments, including four more Rolex Series events, left this year that will be in his sights.
One of the benefits of the FedEx Cup finishing early is that it has enhanced the fields and level of attention for the closing weeks of the European Tour season.
Anything you can do…
Over in the US, meanwhile, the opening weeks of the new PGA Tour season continue to produce some nice stories.
A week after seeing his friend Joaquin Niemann win a first title on the tour, Sebastian Munoz broke his duck at the Sanderson Farms Championship – coincidentally, where he made his debut as a Tour member in 2016.
Munoz picked Niemann’s brains as they flew to the tournament together and it was that chat that convinced the Colombian he was ready to win.
A legend and dear friend
Lastly, I was sad to say goodbye yesterday to a dear friend in Brian Barnes, following his passing earlier this month at the age of 74.
He was a legend, a Ryder Cup mainstay who in 1975 beat Jack Nicklaus twice in one day, and was always there for me.
Main image credit: Getty