The world had the pleasure of witnessing a fantastic Masters in 2016, with the tournament living up to expectations as Englishman Danny Willett claimed his first major.
With a baby arriving one week, a green jacket the very next, the last fortnight has been a rollercoaster ride for the 28-year-old.
Former European Ryder Cup captain and Golf Care ambassador Bernard Gallacher admits Willett is no flash in the pan and expects many more major victories for the Sheffield Star.
In an exclusive interview with Golf Care, Gallacher discussed where it went right for Willett, and where it went wrong for favourite pair Jordan Spieth and Rory McIlroy.
Bernard, how pleased are you for Danny to win his first Masters?
It was a great occasion for Danny. It helped that he was playing alongside his great friend Lee Westwood and they were good for each other.
As soon as Jordan Spieth lost his way, Danny grabbed his chance. He played the last couple of holes extremely well under severe pressure.
He missed the green with his second shot on the 17th and he hit an exquisite up stone dead and played the 18th like a true champion. He thoroughly deserves to join the golfing greats that have worn the green jacket.
Did you expect Danny to be one of the front-runners?
On Saturday afternoon, Jordan had a four-stroke lead with two holes remaining in the third round. At this point, I thought it was Jordan’s tournament.
He finished badly with a bogie and a double bogie which cut his lead right down. This brought about 10 or 15 golfers back into contention and with the weather improving, there was always going to be a chance of someone coming through with a good score and putting pressure on the leader.
This is what happened with Danny. Jordan was struggling with his swing for most of the tournament but was keeping his game together with some extraordinary putting.
They say that it is all about the back nine at The Masters and it proved to be the case once again this year. Jordan’s game was exposed on the 10th, 11th, and 12th.
Even though Jordan came back with a couple of birdies on the par gives, it was clear to see that he was struggling with his game and he was very disconsolate.
Credit to Danny, he grabbed the chance and that is what you have to do. Danny’s victory is not out of the blue as far as I am concerned. He is one of the best golf players in the world.
He has won four professional golf tournaments and he did very well at The Open last year by finishing sixth. He learnt how to cope with the pressure of playing in a major competition.
He is a positive type of player and drives the ball well. That was evident to see on the front nine, he was looking for a good score. Danny wanted to give himself the best chance and he is a worthy winner.
Personally, I think this is the start of things to come for Danny and he can go on and win more major championships.
Not only was it a good Masters for Danny, but also a great Masters for British golf.
It certainly was. The Golf Channel’s commentator Jim Nantz even said that it looked like an all England club at the top of the leaderboard. We obviously had Danny winning the tournament, Lee Westwood tying for second, Paul Casey finishing fourth and Matthew Fitzpatrick ending up joint seventh.
Justin Rose and Rory McIlroy also finished in the top ten so overall it was a great week for European and British golf.
European Ryder Cup captain Darren Clarke must be feeling pretty confident now leading up to the tournament in September.
A word on Rory McIlroy, how do you think he did?
The first three days of the Masters were really tough. The 30mph winds on those fast undulation greens can be very difficult for even the best golfers in the world.
I thought Rory was in good shape after the first two rounds but his big weapon is his driver and it eventually let him down. He even admitted himself that he was trying too hard.
I am sure Rory will come back stronger. That is what good players do: they learn. I am very confident that Rory will win The Masters one day but he will need a slightly different game plan.
Rory is certainly more suited to the other three major tournaments and I am looking forward to seeing how he does.
A new record was set with nine holes in ones so yet again, it was another entertaining Masters. Do you agree?
I do. The hole in one that stood out for me was Shane Lowry’s on the 16th. It was absolutely brilliant.
Davis Love III also hit a great hole in one on the 16th that got the crowd going. The Masters is always an exciting competition to watch.
Augusta is very similar to St Andrews. If you are a real golfer or golf fan, you have to make the trip to see both courses at least once.
Hopefully, we will not have 30mph winds next year and the weather will be settled so we can see the very best golf from the beginning instead of just the final day.
Finally, Bernard, what was your highlight of this year’s Masters?
Dustin Johnson driving the ball onto the third hole was brilliant. He managed to hit the ball 30-yards past the green.
It is great to see a long hitter absolutely belt the ball. I enjoy watching Dustin but saying that, I enjoy watching most of the players.
However, the highlight for me has to be Danny’s victory of course. He didn’t just win either – it was a substantial victory by three strokes. It is great for the British game.
Thank you, Bernard, for taking the time to speak to us.