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Golf Australia Express : GA Express 189
I T WAS THE STEALTH ATTACK NO ONE SAW COMING. Well, not unless you were one of the few who stole a quick glance outside the PGA Tour bubble over the past two months. With the golfing world lavishing attention on Jason Day, Jordan Spieth, Rory McIlroy, Adam Scott and the like in the lead-up to the Masters, there was little room in the conversation for a rock solid Englishman who was enjoying a standout season. Despite finishing tied for third at both the WGC-HSBC Champions in November and the WGC-Cadillac Championship in March, while also collecting a title at the European Tour’s Omega Dubai Desert Classic in early February, Danny Willett was merely a footnote in Masters title discussions. Though he’d taken his ranking from 51st a year ago to an almost career-high 12th on the eve of Augusta, most pundits had already earmarked any number of Americans, Australians, South Africans and a Northern Irishman as likely victors before they considered a 28-year-old Pom whose maiden Masters appearance last year yielded a tie for 38th. When Willett lay in wait, deep within enemy lines at even par after three rounds this week, most of us expected that if anyone was to run down Jordan Spieth, it would likely be Day, Dustin Johnson, Rory McIlroy or Brandt Snedeker. And when Spieth took his advantage to five strokes at the turn on Sunday, after birdieing four consecutive holes, there was simply no way the green jacket was headed Willett’s way. Yet still he waited, until finally his chance arrived and he picked his moment to emerge from the trenches and start lobbing grenades. On a day when every other player struggled to make ground, or dropped shots at critical times on Augusta greens dialed up to ice rink pace, Willett went bogey-free while jagging five birdies between the sixth and 16th holes. If he was privately soiling himself, he wasn’t showing it. Having birdied the 13th with a long two-putt to hit the lead for the first time, he bombed his approach at the par-4 14th to three feet to set up another. Nothing is certain at Augusta, but when he curled his 8-iron to six feet at the par-3 16th and calmly slotted home a fifth and final birdie, his lead was three over compatriot Lee Westwood, and no one could touch him.
GA Express 188
GA Express 190