Danny Willett shares the views of fellow Major winning Rory McIlroy in agreeing it is difficult to get inspired with a continuing ‘no spectator’ policy in place at both PGA and European Tour events.
Willett has returned to competition at this week’s UK Championship at The Belfry, a course the Masters champion first and last visited as a then 15-year to watch practice rounds ahead of the 2002 Ryder Cup.
The Englishman arrived back into the U.K. 11 days ago and this after two prior COVID-19 tests and one earlier today (TUES) in getting to The Belfry.
All three tests proved negative, thus allowing him to be teeing-up with a mandatory 14-days currently in place in the UK.
Willett is competing in a first regular European Tour event since January’s Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship in the UAE and also is coming off eight events on the PGA Tour.
Unfortunately, the current World No. 42 missed the cut in the regular season-ending Wyndham Championship and also sat out the weekend rounds in last week’s Northern Trust.
It was at the Northern Trust where McIlroy again spoke of ‘going through the motions’, reflected in finishing the event T65th and his third poorest PGA Tour four-round result in 181 events.
“We are a very fortunate group of individuals to be playing our sport when the times are so strange for everyone else throughout the world right now,” said Willett.
“You have to feel upbeat just to have the opportunity.
“Yes, it is a shame without fans and I can see where guys who are regularly in the limelight all the time that there is an edge you get from large crowds that does help keep you upbeat on the golf course. If you do have a couple of bad holes there will be guys shouting at you to get back up there, so I can see how that can come and go.
“It is definitely better with fans and every golfer around the world is looking forward to that first tournament with fans, and whoever gets that first opportunity to have the fans back present, it’s going to be a very well-liked golfer.”
Willett tees-up in this the sixth of the inaugural ‘UK Swing’ events with his wife, Nicole on the bag in an arrangement that allows for his regular caddy, after such a long time in the States, to spend time with his own family.
And Willett’s wife is no stranger to caddying for her seven-time pro career winning husband.
“It should be good fun having my wife on the bag and besides Sam (Haywood) has been away from his family and friends a lot so this week is one where I said: ‘You know what?’ Me and the wife will do the job and give Sam a break. We can also give you the week to spend time together on our own.
“Her and I play a little bit of golf together in the States and we have played a bit back here. She’s a bit nervous and she doesn’t want to do anything wrong but luckily we have a nice draw as Bernd (Wiesberger) and Matt (Wallace) are very good friends of ours along with the caddies so she should be looked after.
“Though it was more to do with trying to keep it as normal as possible in these strangest of times as we have all been sharing the house and rooming with each other in the States, so I have not been spending that much time on my own.
“So, we thought it would be good if she caddied this week.”
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