Danny Willett misses the cut by nine shots at the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship after finishing the opening three days at six over par.
Embed from Getty ImagesAn eventful few weeks for Willett could have made it difficult for him to focus fully on his game;
The Masters’ champion would have been hoping for a very successful 2016 Ryder Cup, heading into the competition in fine form on the back of a second place finish at the Italian Open.
However, during the week prior to the Ryder Cup, Pete Willett, Danny’s brother, made famous for his Twitter escapades during Danny’s Masters triumph, took to the golfing magazine The National Club Golfer to describe US golf fans as a “baying mob of imbeciles”.
“[Europe] need to silence these cretins quickly,” Pete Willett added.
Danny then issued an apology to distance himself from his brother’s comments:
“It’s obviously not the thoughts of myself and of the team and of captain Darren [Clarke].
“I said to Pete that I was disappointed in what was said and what was written about the American fans that obviously took me under their wing fantastically [at the Masters],” Willett admitted.
The world number 9 may have wished that was enough to remove a target from his head for the upcoming tournament.
But as the Ryder Cup got underway at Hazeltine it became apparent that Willett had been affected by the comments of his brother and the heckling response of the American spectators.
The American fans raised their game at Hazeltine, the noisy pressure and, in some cases, abuse towards the European team was eviedent.
Rory McIlroy described that: “”It [was] a tough environment but we expect that. There have been some boundaries crossed.
“I let it get to me a couple of times which I probably shouldn’t have.”
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Willett failed to win anything from the three points he competed for, losing two of his matches 5&4, including his Sunday singles match against fellow rookie Brooks Koepka.
After a poor performance in Minnesota, the 29-year-old took to Twitter to support his brother’s comments that he had previously distanced himself from:
Days later Willett then revealed that comments were made towards his family by American hecklers.
“I don’t think you should be walking around playing golf while people are saying things to your parents and saying things to your wife.
“That happened and unfortunately it put a little bit of a downer on what was supposed to be my first really good experience of the Ryder Cup,” Willett explained.
Following his Ryder Cup difficulty, the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship in Scotland offered Willett a welcome opportunity to put his weekend at Hazeltine behind him.
Willett opened with a pair of 73s to leave him two over par and marginally outside the cut line before the third round, after which the cut was made.
On Saturday Willett posted a lacklustre 76 to finish at six over par, tied for 143rd from a field of 168.
During a year in which Willett has a Masters’ championship, a win in the Omega Dubai Desert Classic and seven top 10 finishes, falling nine shots adrift from the cut line is significantly sub-Willett-standard.
It seems apparent from his drastic turn of form that Willett’s game has been affected by the recent events.
In order to get back to the level that helped him clinch the Masters’ green jacket in April, perhaps Willett will first have to leave the drama of the last few weeks behind him.