The Masters 2016: Willett Savours Homecoming

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Danny Willett is enjoying being home with his wife and baby while reflecting on a meteoric 18 months that have taken him to the top of the game.

The first Englishman to win the Masters in 20 years is back in Sheffield soaking up the adulation with his wife Nicole and their baby son Zachariah, who was born just two weeks ago.

Willett hopes Sunday’s win at Augusta, where he took advantage of a back-nine meltdown by defending champion Jordan Speith to land his first major title, will signal the start of more success.

“It’s about the quiet self-belief that I’ve gone about my business,” said Willett, who has leapt from a ranking in the 100s to world No 9 in a year and a half.

“I’ve done all the preparation and I’ve worked hard over the last 15 years to try and get in that situation.

“You work hard, you never quite believe it’s going to happen – all the practice and all the hours that you put in, you dedicate yourself to what you’re doing, they just pay off.”

Reflecting on what has changed in the past 18 months, Willett said he had been able to put a few years of injury behind him and was finally playing the level of golf he was capable of.

“A lot of it was injury – I think I got my card in 2008, I’ve been on the tour for a long time now,” he said. “I had a couple of good years when I first started, then I had a couple of torrid years with injuries.

“It took a long time to get back from that. You need the six months break and then you need to rebuild everything, do all the rehab work for your body and then obviously do the rehab work for your golf swing and try to improve it.

“That’s what set me back and then over the last three years I’d say it’s been a nice progression slowly up there, more so the last 12 to 18 months, it’s been a real upward shift.”

It doesn’t look like ending there. Willett’s victory at Augusta has made him a certainty for the Ryder Cup in September, while his place on the Great Britain team for the Olympics is almost assured.

All players within the top 15 of the Olympic rankings on July 11 will be eligible, although no more than four players can come from any one country.

“That’ll really finish this year – just awesome – going from little man [his son] to the green jacket, to then obviously playing for Europe in the Ryder Cup, it really will be a dream,” he said.