Since his incredible Masters triumph two years ago, Willett has
mostly toiled on the golf course, struggling to come anywhere close to
the achievement, with many questioning if he was a one-hit wonder doomed
to live in the shadow of his earlier triumph.
And when he bogeyed the 10th and 12th holes in Dubai on Sunday to
reduce his lead over playing partner Patrick Reed to just one shot, it
seemed as he was destined for more disappointment, despite the superb
40-foot putt for eagle at the second that had kickstarted his round.
But Willett fought back superbly, matching Reed's birdies at 14 and
15 before producing a sublime tee shot at the par-3 17th to five feet.
He had a bit of fortune on the 18th when his tee shot stopped inches
short of the water hazard on the right, and took full advantage,
salvaging par to close out a two-shot victory at the European Tour's
star-studded season finale.
The win has rocketed him back into the world's top 100 just six months after being ranked as low as 462nd.
"We got off to a flying start and everything seemed rosy in the
camp," said Willett. "Then obviously there was a blip there down 10 and
12, so I'm proud of how I handled that and how I handled myself
emotionally everything and else.
"And the way I finished out those last five or six holes, having not
been in that position for a long time, you never know if you're going to
be back in the position, and it's nice that I got back in there and I
handled it the way in which I did."
After nearly two years of struggles with back and shoulder injuries
and a loss of form, Willett can now look to the future with a new-found
sense of optimism.
"Regardless of what would have happened today, I'm in a much better
place than where I was," he added. "I knew that things were going the
right way and I was doing all the work possible to give myself chances
to do this.
"Winning is a rarity on Tour, really. I'm pleased to have won the
tournaments that I've won over the last few years. I've won some pretty
big ones, and obviously Augusta is always going to be special.
"But this, coming back after everything that's happened, this year is
going to go down in the history books for myself as one of the most
"At the back end of '16, beginning of '17, we picked up a couple of
bad injuries, the golf game wasn't in a good place and I didn't really
want to play golf. There were some great things going on in the golfing
world, but I wasn't in a position to where I was enjoying what I was
doing, and I was in pain."
Willett also said he was able to draw on his memories of his final
round at Augusta in 2016 - a bogey-free 67 - to help him close the deal
"One thing that you can't teach is how you cope under pressure down
the stretch, that just comes naturally to some people," he said.
"Fortunately I feel like we are relatively good in certain situations
when I'm competent in what I'm doing.
"Yeah, you draw back, you draw on a lot of things. You look and you
kind of really think of shots I hit around Augusta, and how you felt
there, hands were shaking, how your nerves were, holing a few of those
little slippery six-footers, and we had a few of them today.
"You do draw on it, but I haven't been able to draw it, because like I
said, I haven't been in a proper position to be able to do so."