Danny Willett celebrated his 34th birthday this weekend by winning the 20th Anniversary Alfred Dunhill Links Championship at St Andrews.
The Rotherham Golf Club member was last at the top of the leaderboard at the end of the final day when he won the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth in 2019.
Injuries and COVID have hampered the former Masters champion but Willett showed his class as he shot a 68 on the Old Course for an 18-under-par total to win by two from Joakim Lagergren, who had a 66 and Tyrrell Hatton, 67.
It was his eighth European Tour victory and he wins a first prize of £578,000.
Danny Willett said: “It’s been a very unfortunate last eight months, really. Every time the game feels like it’s been in a nice place, we’ve had a couple of things, issues with health, just things that you can’t really avoid. COVID, wisdom teeth, appendix, they’re not things that — they are just things, and they seem to have knocked us back a peg or two, and never really been able to get the momentum going in.
“This one, for everyone watching, this seems quite out of the blue, but the practice I’ve been doing at home and the
inner belief we have every time we get in and out of position to do something was proven again.
“Like I said before, doesn’t matter where it is, who it’s against, it’s just a question if the game is in shape. When it
is, we’re all right.
“To win here, to be British and to be able to win on British soil, to win at the home of golf, this is a very special one.
Especially after how the last kind of year and a half has been for everyone involved.”
The Alfred Dunhill Links Championship incorporates two separate competitions – a European Tour sanctioned individual professional tournament for 168 of the world’s leading golfers and a Team Championship, in which each professional is paired with one of 168 amateurs.
It was nearly a double celebration for Danny in the Team Championship with American amateur partner Jimmy Dunne, but a final putt slipped by the hole.
Willett, added: “It’s been a good week. I had a great partner in Jimmy. Things have been good. I’ve always said if I get a bit of a sniff, I’m usually all right. And today was a nice example of that. Scoring was pretty low on that front nine, and we were able to fend off a few guys and play really solidly on the back nine.
“Jimmy is a great guy. He’s a great golfer. And we just had a great week, seeing all the guys. I haven’t done this format for two years now. So, it’s nice that the Championship is back on, and it’s lovely. It’s a big one.
“It’s been a relatively average year till this. Fingers crossed now we’ve got six or seven events left till we put the clubs down at Christmas, so hopefully we can push on a bit from this.”
Images: Alfred Dunhill Links / Danny Willett / twitter