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'It hasn't been the quiet 4 weeks I was expecting': Masters champ Willett blowing off cobwebs at the Players

The Englishman has been kept occupied by keeping his Green Jacket out of his new baby’s reach.

Willett with his wife Nicole and son Zachariah James.
Willett with his wife Nicole and son Zachariah James.
Image: PA Wire/Press Association Images

US MASTERS CHAMPIONS Danny Willett makes his return to the PGA Tour for the first time since his triumph at Augusta National when The Players Championship begins tomorrow.

The 28-year-old Englishman has played only one round of golf since collecting the green jacket and his first major crown last month, drinking more than he had planned and changing nappies on his baby son during what he hoped would be a vacation.

“I was going to take a few weeks off and actually go on a holiday and just relax, take the little one away and just do normal things, but it’s just been obviously a bit of chaos back home, so it hasn’t really been the quiet four weeks I was expecting,” Willett said.

“The idea was to kind of get prepped and ready for a really busy spell now going leading up to the next couple of majors.

“Still a bit of downtime in there but not playing as much golf as I would have liked back at home, and that was obviously for various reasons, so it’s good to be back with the guys and practicing, and hopefully we can get off to a good start this week.”

Willett’s lone round before practice this week in Florida was last Saturday with friends.

“Was the only time I’ve been on the golf course in the last month, so a little bit rusty,” Willett said.

Willett is trying to keep the same detail-oriented approach that paid off at the Masters at the famed TPC Sawgrass course.

“The approach is always the same,” he added. “I’ve got my little checklist of things I want to try to do day-to-day to achieve. I’ll approach it the same as I approached Augusta, as I approached the week before that, and do the bits I can do. Hopefully if you do all that you can shoot some good numbers.”

Willett, ranked ninth, brings the green jacket on most of his trips to wear at special appearances, but avoids having it around the baby, noting “you can’t trust him when you’re changing him.”

“Probably wear it a lot less than what most people think I would, but I don’t want to get it dirty or spill anything on it, so no, it stays sort of up in the wardrobe,” Willett said.

“It travels everywhere, just in case you have to you go meet someone or you go do something with it.

Obviously it’s a very iconic thing, the green jacket. Most times you get a trophy and it’s nice and you look at it every now and again, but obviously the jacket because you can wear it, it’s just different. There’s so much history.”

Willett plays the first two rounds of the Players alongside compatriot Justin Rose, the only other Englishman to win a major crown in 20 years, and American Brandt Snedeker.

World number one Jason Day, last year’s PGA Championship winner, said he is better prepared for the Players, where he has missed the cut three times, than ever before.

“It definitely feels different,” Day said. “I feel a lot more prepared this year than I ever have in my career coming into this event.

Players Championship Golf Source: AP/Press Association Images

“I think the biggest thing for me is there are a few 3-woods out there for me that I have to hit and if there’s one club in the bag that’s uncomfortable for me at times, it’s the 3-wood.

“I feel good about my game and I’m looking forward to the challenge this week.”

Day is concentrating on staying atop the rankings as he tries to add to his major win totals at next month’s US Open and the British Open in July, just two weeks before defending his PGA Championship title at Baltusrol.

“I’m sure as time goes on priorities will change for me, but I’m hoping that I can stay at number one for a long time if I can and try and win as many times as I can,” Day said.

The Australian will play the first two rounds alongside South Africa’s Branden Grace and second-ranked American Jordan Spieth, playing his first event since a back-nine disaster handed Willett victory at the Masters.

Day rates the Players as one of those he wants to win the most.

“It’s a golf tournament that you really do want to win and have on your resume at the end of your career because it’s such a huge event,” he said.

“If you’re on the border of getting into the Hall of Fame, this could kick it over.”

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