Danny Willett, 28, took the lead in the 2016 Masters following a late collapse from Jordan Spieth and never let go, watching his win become final from the clubhouse interview room. Willett has never before finished above sixth at a major championship and finished tied for 38th in the 2015 edition of the Masters. The sport’s signature tournament is only the fifth professional win for the native of Sheffield, England.
Willett was born and raised in Sheffield, the third-largest metropolitan area in the United Kingdom with a population of around 550,000. He left the country in 2006 to play at Jacksonville State University in Alabama, where he became the Ohio Valley Conference Freshman of the Year and medaled at the 2007 OVC Championship. After two seasons at JSU, he left the team to turn pro.
Sheffield is more famous in soccer history than for golf. The city’s two prominent football clubs, Sheffield Wednesday and Sheffield United, both won the First Division (predecessor of the Premier League) in the 19th and early 20th centuries. Sadly, Sheffield’s soccer history is better remembered for tragedy than triumph: Hillsborough Stadium, home of Sheffield Wednesday, was the site of a human crush that killed 96 fans at a cup final in 1989.
Willett joins rare company as a Masters champion, as he would be only the second Englishman to win the tournament and would mark the country’s fourth championship in Masters history. His only countryman in a green jacket is Nick Faldo, who won the tournament in 1989, 1990, and 1996.
His sister-in-law tweeted “support” from across the pond: