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Golf champion - vicar dad says it's 'the favour of God'

New US Masters winner Danny Willett was introduced to golf by his father, the Rev Stephen Willett, on a family holiday in Anglesey ...

New US Masters winner Danny Willett was introduced to golf by his father, the Rev Stephen Willett, on a family holiday in Anglesey.

"By the time he was 12 he was out-driving me by 70 yards," Rev Willett told Radio 4's Today programme. "But it wasn't just his play. He understood things like shaft rises and stiffness and he just knew about golf.

"I stopped playing with him after a while because it was embarrassing."

In an extraordinary final day at Augusta, the Sheffield-born 28-year-old finished three shots clear after defending champion Jordan Spieth surrendered a five-shot lead, after dropping six shots in three holes.

He almost didn't make the tournament, saying last month he wouldn't play if it conflicted with the birth of his first child. Thankfully, his wife Nicole, whose due date was Masters Sunday, gave birth to Zachariah James Willett almost two weeks early on 29 March.

Danny Willett turned professional in 2008 after winning the 2007 English Amateur Championship and becoming world amateur number one. His first European Tour victory came at the 2012 BMW International Open in Germany, and he won twice in 2015 before picking up his fourth tour victory in February this year at the Dubai Desert Classic.

In an interview with the Daily Express he said he was a Christian, brought up in a Christian home, but wondered how much God was concerned with his golf career: "I think He has bigger things to deal with than whether I shoot 65 or not at the US PGA."

However, his dad told Premier's News Hour: ""I believe very seriously in the favour of God and that's what's happening.

"In the last two years he's played out of his socks and I think God is honouring him for being an honourable man."

Danny has paid tribute in the past to his dad's encouragement and motivational skills: "The best psychologist I know is my dad, because what he says is so grounded, and it's about whether you're doing right or wrong. When you're away from golf you need that balance, and he provides it."


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