The Punter's De-Brief: Wonderful Willet wins again

Golfer Danny Willett
Danny Willett with the Alfred Dunhill Links trophy

Danny Willett has won his eighth European Tour title and Sam Burns has notched again on the PGA Tour. Our man looks back at their impressive victories here...

"We’ve now had 20 editions of the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship and 14 of the winners have been either English, Scottish or Irish."

Pre-event 120.0119/1 chance, Danny Willett, who was matched at a high of 150.0149/1 before the off, began the fourth and final round of the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship with a three-shot lead and after he'd birdied two of the first three holes, he never really looked like getting caught.

Richard Bland birdied five of the last six holes on the front nine to draw alongside Willett, but the 54-hole leader responded in style. He birdied the short par four ninth after almost driving the green and he moved two clear with this brilliant putt on 10.

Bland traded no lower than 3.814/5 and his challenge soon fizzled out after Willett's birdies around the turn. The veteran Englishman played the back nine in one-over-par and he eventually finished tied for fourth, as Willett parred his way home to win by two.

Willett, who was celebrating his 34th birthday yesterday, hadn't had a top-ten finish all year but there were plenty of plausible excuses. During 2021 he's had Covid-19, issues with his wisdom teeth, appendicitis, and a hernia so it was no surprise to see him so emotional afterwards.

"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. Especially for us, we've struggled a little bit with things.

"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.

"Doesn't matter where it is, who it's against, it's just a question of if the game is in shape. When it is, we're all right."
Over on the PGA Tour, Sahith Theegala, who had led after rounds one and two, began the final round of the Sanderson Farms Championship with a one-stroke lead but it was a tight looking leaderboard and three strokes separated the top-nine. And seven of the top-nine were looking to win for the first time.

Pre-event 20.019/1 favourite, Sam Burns, who sat alongside Cameron Tringale, Cameron Young and Denny McCarthy in a tie for second was the man to beat according to the market and the market was bang on.

Burns, who was trading at 4.216/5 before the final round began, birdied three of his first seven holes and after a sticky patch around the turn, he put the event to bed with birdies at 11, 13, 14 and 15.

The margin of victory over Nick Watney and Cameron Young was just one in the end, after Burns had bogeyed the final hole, but he was always in command and the manner of his victory was really impressive.

Burns took quite some time to get accustomed to playing in-contention but he was as cool as a cucumber yesterday and the margin of victory would have been wider had he putted better throughout the week.

My Bets

As highlighted in the In-Play Blog, I layed pre-event pick, Tyrrell Hatton, who eventually finished tied second with Joakim Lagergren, at odds-on during round three, and taking on Cameron Tringale in the place markets in the Sanderson Farms yesterday paid off nicely when he bogeyed the 72nd hole to slip outside the top-ten.

Willett was one that got away

I was a bit miffed that I hadn't put up Danny Willett in the Find Me a 100 Winner column again. He's been a selection in the past as he has a habit of winning out of the blue and as a proven links specialist, who'd been runner-up in the event in 2010, he really did tick all the boxes apart from current form.

I waited until Wednesday to make my picks as I wanted to see the draw and to back plays beginning the tournament at Carnoustie early on Thursday morning. The forecast suggested a benign start to the opening day with the wind picking up so a nice early start at the toughest of the three venues looked ideal, but it didn't pan out like that at all.

The very early starters were hit with the worst of the weather on day one so Willett's 10:39 start was just about perfect. Had he been drawn to start at an hour earlier he would have been a pick but there's no guarantee he would have won because that first hour and half was brutal.

We've now had 20 editions of the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship and 14 of the winners have been either English, Scottish or Irish. Willett was the seventh different Englishman to take the title but Hatton is the one that needs to be backed again next year.

Hatton lost his way in the tough conditions on Saturday afternoon and that was where the event was won but he really is the best suited to the event. Tyrrell played the back-nine at St Andrews in three-over-par on Saturday. Willett played them in three-under.

Had conditions been kinder on Saturday, I suspect Hatton would have won the title for a third time and he should arguably have won it four times. He hit a low of 1.68/13 on Saturday and he was matched at just 1.111/9 three years ago when bidding to win the event for the third time in-a-row.

We've got a couple of great tournaments to look forward to this week. World number one, Jon Rahm, is back in his homeland as he attempts to win the Open de Espana for the third time in-a-row and the PGA Tour stops off in Vegas for the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open.

I'll be back tomorrow with my previews.

*You can follow me on Twitter @SteveThePunter

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