Ups and downs . . .

Danny Wil­lett finds glare of the spot­light can be a lit­tle too bright in af­ter­math of Masters vic­tory

The Herald - Herald Sport - - GOLF, CRICKET - NICK RODGER

THAT lit­tle gold chal­ice known as the Ry­der Cup is only 17 inches high and nine inches wide but it doesn’t half over­shadow things wher­ever it gets plonked down.

It was at Went­worth yes­ter­day as Dar­ren Clarke, Europe’s skip­per, un­veiled his first three vice-cap­tains for the bi­en­nial bun­fight with the USA. The whole cam­era-click­ing palaver dunted the sec­ond round of play in the BMW PGA Cham­pi­onship so far into the back­ground it ended up hav­ing about as much pro­file as the Sur­rey & Berk­shire In­ter County Stable­ford.

It was all fairly quiet on the West Course front but the day had started with plenty of roars as Danny Wil­lett, the Masters cham­pion, thun­dered to the turn in 29 blows, the low­est in this cham­pi­onship’s his­tory.

At that point, the 28-year-old York­shire­man, who picked up six birdies in an ex­plo­sive seven holes from the third, was five shots clear and mo­tor­ing along like one of the tour­na­ment spon­sor’s high-pow­ered mar­ques. His home­ward jour­ney, though, was as shoo­gly as a drive in this cor­re­spon­dent’s jalopy. “It all min­gled into one big pile of s***,” said Wil­lett af­ter his event­ful four-un­der 68 for a 10-un­der left him in a three-way tie at the top with YE Yang and Scott Hend at the half­way stage of the Euro­pean Tour’s flag­ship event

Three bo­geys in a row from the 15th, as well as a tick­ing off from the ref­eree for slow play, did lit­tle to lighten Wil­lett’s mood on a tur­bu­lent in­ward half. Af­ter a gud­dle in the trees on 17, his rak­ing ap­proach to the 18th, which set up an ea­gle op­por­tu­nity and even­tu­ally spawned a birdie, en­sured the topsy-turvy round ended on a high note. “Af­ter that bo­gey on 17, I just walked a bit slower to the next tee and gave my­self a good talk­ing to,” he said.

Like that afore­men­tioned Ry­der Cup, Wil­lett is now very much in the spot­light. That’s all part of be­ing a ma­jor cham­pion. “Every­thing you do is be­ing watched and you have to mind your Ps and Qs which I’m some­times not good at,” he said. “I used to have nice, quiet lit­tle prac­tice ses­sions on my own but now there’s al­ways a cam­era be­hind me.”

Scott Hend and Y.E. Yang were also be­hind Wil­lett on the course and, by the end of the day, they were level with him at the sum­mit. The well-trav­elled Hend, aim­ing to be­come the first Aus­tralian to win the PGA ti­tle in 26 years, ea­gled the 18th in a 69 while Korean vet­eran Yang picked up a stroke on the last in his three-un­der round as the lead­ing trio fin­ished a stroke ahead of Jaco Van Zyl and four in front of fifth-placed Jorge Campillo. There wasn’t much to shout about on the home front – apart from Lawrie’s Ry­der ap­point­ment of course - but Scott Jamieson had plenty of rea­sons to be cheer­ful as he ended a run of four suc­ces­sive missed cuts with some­thing of a flour­ish.

A hole-in-one on the 10th gal­vanised his sec­ond round and he fin­ished with a one-un­der 71 for a one-un­der 143 and qual­i­fied for the week­end with a cou­ple of shots to spare on the same mark as coun­try­man David Drys­dale.

The re­ward for the third ace of his ca­reer wasn’t too shabby. He was handed the keys to a shim­mer­ing BMW M2 worth some­thing in the re­gion of £44,000. Or about the same amount of money he has earned on the Euro­pean Tour this sea­son.

“I was one-over at the time so it was very, very timely,” said Jamieson, who was play­ing in the penul­ti­mate group of the day and was one of five Scots from an orig­i­nal en­try of11 to make the cut.

And what does he cur­rently drive? “A Mercedes,” he replied in front of

NOT OUT OF THE WOODS YET: Danny Wil­lett dis­cov­ers that he has plonked his ball right into the un­der­growth as his sec­ond round be­gins to un­ravel

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