Danny Willett joined two of the greats of English golf when he won the Nedbank Golf Challenge by four shots at the Gary Player Country Club on 7 December 2014.
With a masterful final round of 66 in which he putted superbly, Willet ended a memorable week on 18 under par and played his way into the company of Sir Nick Faldo (1994) and Lee Westwood (2010, 2011) as an English champion in Africa’s Major.
“Those are some pretty good names to be next to. You see those names on the walk to the ninth green, and you realise how many great players have been here. It’s been an unbelievable week and words can’t describe it,” says Willett.
And he sets himself up for a big next few months on the European Tour as the first winner of the new 2015 season.
“This changes a lot. It’s an amazing way to start the new season. It gives you a massive boost,” says Willett.
The Englishman went into the final round one shot behind Luke Donald. But as Donald faded with a final round of 73 to eventually finish third on 12 under and Ross Fisher closed with a 68 for second place on 14 under, Willett put together a confident and composed final round for the victory. It capped an incredible weekend in which he shot rounds of 65 and 66.
“You know, my caddie and I said we were going to play aggressive golf this week and we just stuck to that gameplan,” said Willett.
In his speech on the 18th green, Willett also paid tribute to former South African president Nelson Mandela. During Friday’s second round, play was stopped at midday and all the golfers observed a minute of silence as a tribute to the great leader.
“He did great things for this country, and because of that we can come down here and enjoy South Africa. I have always loved playing in South Africa. Everything about this place is fantastic.”
Willett now has $1 250 000 worth of reasons to return in 2015.
“I love it down here and I love playing on the European Tour. Sure, as a kid the dream was always to play on the PGA Tour. But I don’t care how good your PGA Tour event is, it’s not going to match up to a week like this.”
Tim Clark and Louis Oosthuizen finished as the leading South Africans on three under par.