Wil­lett looks to lick Ry­der Cup wounds at Dun­hill

The Sun (Malaysia) - - SPORTS -

FOR SIX mem­bers of the de­feated Euro­pean Ry­der Cup side it is back to ‘busi­ness as usual’ this week in Scot­land, the ‘home of golf’.

US Masters Cham­pion Danny Wil­lett joins dou­ble Ma­jor-win­ner Martin Kaymer along with Hazel­tine rookie sen­sa­tion Thomas Pi­eters plus Spain’s Rafa Cabr­era-Bello and the Eng­land pair of Lee West­wood and Matthew Fitz­patrick in tee­ing up in the Al­fred Dun­hill Links Cham­pi­onship.

This year marks the 16th an­niver­sary of the pro-am­a­teur tour­na­ment for­mat played over three cour­ses in the east of Scot­land – the Old Course at St An­drews, Carnoustie and Kings­barns.

Wil­lett, still bit­terly dis­ap­pointed at the “per­sonal” abuse he re­ceived dur­ing Europe’s 17-11 loss away to the United States in the Ry­der Cup, will be look­ing to ex­tend his lead over ab­sent Hazel­tine team­mates Hen­rik Sten­son and Rory McIl­roy for the sea­son-end­ing Race to Dubai ti­tle.

Wil­lett is cur­rently some €413,000 ahead of Sten­son while McIl­roy is a fur­ther €643,000 adrift of the leader.

“I went so close to win­ning the Race to Dubai last year but then Rory played su­perbly over the week­end out there in Dubai to go past me,” said Wil­lett.

“So that’s the goal this sea­son to go that one place bet­ter and win the Race to Dubai.”

Wil­lett also has fond me­mories of be­ing fourth in last year’s Dun­hill event which came just months af­ter his share of sixth place in the Bri­tish Open at St An­drews – where he will play two rounds this week.

“My sixth in The Open here at St An­drews a year ago was my then best fin­ish in a Ma­jor and pretty much gave me the con­fi­dence of what then took place this year at the Masters,” he said.

Wil­lett, how­ever, is sure not to have it all his own way this week as Hazel­tine col­leagues Kaymer and West­wood are for­mer event win­ners, along with South African Bran­den Grace who posted a round of 60 at Kings­barns en route to suc­cess in 2012.

Grace re­vealed he spent last week “glued” to watching TV cov­er­age of the Ry­der Cup and hop­ing, that as a likely mem­ber of the 2017 In­ter­na­tional Pres­i­dents Cup side, to fi­nally turn the ta­bles on the United States next Septem­ber at the Lib­erty Na­tional course in New Jer­sey.

Un­like the Euro­pean Ry­der Cup team, the In­ter­na­tional Pres­i­dents Cup side has won just one of the 11 bi­en­nial en­coun­ters – the third stag­ing of the event in 1998 in Aus­tralia – and has lost the past six edi­tions from 2005 to 2015.

“As an In­ter­na­tional player, you never like see­ing the Amer­i­cans win,” said world No. 14 Grace. “They keep win­ning the Pres­i­dents Cup but we’re get­ting closer.

“But I have to say I was glued to the TV ev­ery night watching the Ry­der Cup though at the end of the day the bet­ter team won.

“Those guys, they played mag­nif­i­cent golf and what Ser­gio (Gar­cia) and (Phil) Mick­el­son did on Sun­day (in a birdie strewn halved sin­gles en­counter), it’s phe­nom­e­nal.

“That’s what the Ry­der Cup is about and if you ever get in that po­si­tion and get into that team, there’s just no feel­ing like it.

“A ma­jor is some­thing but the pres­sure in a Ry­der Cup and Pres­i­dents Cup is so much big­ger than a ma­jor.” – AFP

– REUTERSPIX

Danny Wil­lett dur­ing prac­tice yes­ter­day ahead of the Al­fred Dun­hill Links Cham­pi­onship at the Old Course St. An­drews, Scot­land.

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