WENTWORTH, United Kingdom: Danny Willett beat Spaniard Jon Rahm by three shots on Sunday at the BMW PGA Championship to seal his seventh European Tour title and first win of the year. The 2016 Masters champion signed for a closing 67 at Wentworth to finish 20-under par for the tournament, ending in style with consecutive birdies. South Africa’s Christiaan Bezuidenhout had to settle for third, a shot behind Rahm on 16-under.
After missing the cut at Wentworth last May, Willett was ranked 462nd in the world as he struggled with a loss of form precipitated by a number of injuries.
However, the 31-year-old has bounced back to form since winning the World Tour Championship in Dubai nearly a year ago and will be just outside the top 30 when the rankings are updated on Monday. “The one thing for me is that I would have been completely happy with myself today if I had finished first or 10th, and I think that is the big difference,” said Willett. “I’ve said it before, I feel like I’m pretty good when I’m in contention, when I’ve got a sniff of being pretty efficient in what I’ve been able to achieve.”
Willett and Rahm began the day tied for the lead and the Englishman struck the first blows with birdies on the second and third before Rahm made a gain on the fourth to halve his deficit. A birdie on the eighth restored Willett’s two-shot lead but he looked set to surrender it after hitting a tree with his recovery shot following a wild drive on the 11th and then gouging his third shot out of the heather into a bunker.
Willett’s bogey save
Willett even appeared to have hurt his right wrist in the process but, after finding the green with his fourth, he holed from 40 feet to drop just one shot. Bogeys at 12 and 14 halted Rahm’s charge and Willett struck the decisive blow with birdie at 17 to ensure a two-shot lead going up the 18th tee.
Rahm then found the water short of the green with his approach and Willett finished with a birdie to round off his victory in style. American duo Billy Horschel and Patrick Reed tied for fourth on 15-under. Rafa Cabrera Bello and Richie Ramsay shared sixth on 13-under, while Justin Rose finished on 12-under for eighth.
Rory McIlroy, who made the cut with nothing to spare after a disastrous opening round, added a 67 to his third round of 65 to finish in a tie for ninth with Andrew Johnston on 11-under. “On Thursday night, if someone had of told me on Sunday I’d have a chance of finishing in the top 10, I would have taken it,” said world number two McIlroy, who has now managed 16 top-10 finishes in just 21 events this year. Reigning champion Francesco Molinari’s title defence ended in a tie for 14th on nine-under, one stroke behind British Open winner Shane Lowry. — AFP