Danny Willett has an interesting relationship with American galleries. Historically, winning the green jacket not only transforms you into an instant celebrity in the sport, but – due to golf’s love of all things Augusta National – cements a special place in the hearts of fans. But that hasn’t quite been the case for the 29-year-old Englishman.
At the US Open at Oakmont many spectators – even those following Willett – didn’t know who he was. Then there was Willett’s infamous Ryder Cup foray, one sullied by his brother’s satirical piece and the response it generated from US fans.
Speaking at the Dubai Desert Classic on Tuesday, Willett was asked if he was worried about residual effects on his return to the states in February for the Honda Classic. Willett, ever the witty fellow, crafted the perfect response.
“What, me playing bad? I think they will welcome me with open arms,” Willett said. “Playing terrible, giving them a few points, I think they’ll be all right with that.”
While acknowledging the hard feelings at Hazeltine, Willett asserted he’s enjoyed playing on the US PGA Tour, and most of his interactions with galleries have been positive.
“I feel like I’ve had a very good relationship with the American fans for a long, long time. Every time I’ve gone over there,” Willett affirmed. “Yeah, the Ryder Cup tainted things a little bit, but I think people realise that obviously words were said and stuff.
“But then they are obviously not mine. So there shouldn’t be any issues.”
Willett won last year’s Dubai Desert Classic, and – after less than desirable play as of late – hopes the week spurs him to prosperity as he prepares to defend his Masters crown.
“I think of what here and Augusta did tell me is that if I keep working hard, when I get the chances, I feel like I’m pretty ready to take them there.”