Golf | Willett stays grounded after Masters triumph

Oakmont – Danny Willett believes that the chances of any golfer winning all four majors in the same year are meagre to say the least, but he is not ruling it out entirely.

The 28-year-old Englishman is the only player, in the buildup to this week’s US Open at Oakmont outside Pittsburgh, who can manage that feat in 2016 following his upset win in the Masters in Augusta.

That victory came on the back of a spectacular collapse by defending champion Jordan Spieth, who squandered a five-hole lead down Augusta’s famed back nine on Sunday.

Spieth it was last year who came the closest to achieving the calendar-year Grand Slam in recent years when he won the Masters and US Open before missing a playoff at the British Open at St Andrews by just one shot.

That convinced many that the feat is within the realms of possibility, even if no one player is dominating the game like Tiger Woods did for so long.

Willett says he has given it some thought.

“What Jordan did last year was awesome. We’ve not seen that for a while, obviously since Tiger’s days,” Willett said.

“I know no one’s done it. Obviously, they’ve done the slam, holding four at the same time, obviously. But to do it in the same year, I am relatively surprised that no one has done it, but saying that, from now on, for the rest of the time that I’m going to be playing golf, I honestly can’t see it happening too much, just purely because of the strength and depth of the field.

“You’d have had more of a chance back in the day, I guess. But even then, you had (Arnold) Palmer, (Gary) Player, (Jack) Nicklaus, (Tom) Watson.

“It’s not like none of them wanted to do it at any time. Then you had Tiger, (Phil) Mickelson, and Sergio (Garcia).

“Obviously, now you have Spieth, (Jason) Day, Rory (McIlroy) that have all obviously got majors to their name. It just shows you how difficult it actually is to do.”

Willett’s breakthrough win at Augusta came after 18 months of rapid progress up the rankings for the former amateur star, who had struggled to make the step up to the pro level after a run of injuries.

And he admitted that it took him and his young family some time to come to terms with the new-found fame that followed him around.

In fact, he has only played three times since the Masters in early April — missing the cut in the Players Championship and sharing 23rd at the Irish Open before improving with a third-place finish in the BMW-PGA tournament last month.

“It’s tricky when you’re in the public eye. The last couple months, I can’t remember a practice session, a golf tournament that’s not being filmed or a microphone nearby,” he said.

“It’s tricky to be yourself and to do things and to talk openly about how you’re swinging it, what you’re trying to work on, just because there’s always someone there watching and being around it. So that’s one of the main things that’s kind of been different.”

Willett’s Masters win and new celebrity sees him promoted to playing in one of the top groupings alongside McIlroy and Rickie Fowler on Thursday and Friday.

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