London - Danny Willett's astonishing Masters triumph cost Alex Ferguson £8 000, but the legendary former Manchester United
manager was still happy to congratulate the shock champion.
Ferguson, who jetted out to Augusta to watch all four days of the
tournament, had backed Jordan Spieth to win and appeared on course to
cash in as the American established a comfortable lead in the final
round on Sunday.
But defending champion Spieth collapsed over the last holes, with a
disastrous 12th proving especially costly as the unheralded Willett
charged up the leaderboard to become the first Englishman to win the
Masters for 20 years.
Ferguson's light-hearted frustration at missing out on a pay-day was
revealed when television cameras captured his meeting with Willett
during the 28-year-old's post-victory celebrations.
Ironically, Willett is a fan of Manchester United's arch rivals
Liverpool, but Ferguson put that, and his lost winnings, to one side as
he congratulated the first Briton since Nick Faldo to don the famous
green jacket given to the Masters champion.
"I had £8 000 on Spieth!" Ferguson told Willett, prompting the new world number nine to laugh and say "oh, sorry".
Ferguson was quick to show he was only teasing.
"I'm so delighted. I'm so delighted honestly. Happy to throw it away," he said to Willett.
"You need to know where to put your money!," Willett said with a smile.
Ferguson, a big golf enthusiast who gave a pep talk to the European
Ryder Cup team at Gleneagles in 2014, relished the chance to witness
Willett's victory in person.
"If you can experience
something like that in a golf situation, the Ryder Cup or tonight, they
are special moments, you can't beat that," he said.
"I'm very fortunate in my life to be able to retire and go and see
that. If I had been manager of Man United, I wouldn't have been here.
Simply because my job was more important.
"But I'm privileged, having retired and done this today, it's fantastic."
Willett was due to fly back to England on Monday for more
celebrations with his family, including his brother Peter who became a
Twitter sensation for his excitable tweets as his sibling closed in on
his fairytale success.
"We were having a quiet drink, seeing him move up the scoreboard,
seeing him getting better and better - it was really enjoyable," Peter
Willett told the BBC.
"I started sending out a few tweets just to see what kind of reaction I got because that's the kind of guy I am.
"Then Spieth did what he did on the 12th and it just went insane."
Ranked outside the top 100 as recently as November 2014, Willett
isn't used to the spotlight and said he was looking forward to some
peace and quiet with wife Nicole and their newly-born son Zac once the
champagne corks finally stop popping.
"We had the usual Masters celebrations up at the club house with the
Augusta members and I had a good few friends back at the house and we
continued having a good time right up until the early hours," he told
"It's still not sunken in about what we've achieved and what it
means. I'm looking forward to being at home with my family and letting
it sink in properly with close family.
"We're on a flight later on today, as early as we could get out with all the commotion.
"I'm looking forward to getting home and locking the door and
throwing the key away for a week and turning my phone off and enjoying
spending time with Nic and Zac."