DUBAI, United Arab Emirates – In a few weeks when Danny Willett returns to the United States for his first PGA Tour start of the year, American fans may recall the last time they saw the Masters champion.
Willett’s brother, Pete, added a level of unneeded animosity to last year’s Ryder Cup when he referred to American fans as “fat, stupid, greedy, classless, bastards” in an online article.
Willett endured added scrutiny at Hazeltine National and struggled to a 0-3-0 record, but when he was asked on Tuesday at the Omega Dubai Desert Classic if he was bracing for more fallout from fans he joked, “What, me playing bad? I think they will welcome me with open arms. Playing terrible, giving them a few points, I think they'll be all right with that.”
Willett, whose first start in the U.S. will be the Honda Classic in late February, said he didn’t expect any issues from American fans.
“I think people realize that obviously words were said and stuff. But then they are obviously not mine,” he said. “So there shouldn't be any issues.”
It was in Dubai last year where Willett began his run to the Masters. After outdueling Rafa Cabrera Bello and Andy Sullivan on Sunday at Emirates Golf Club, the experience helped give the Englishman added confidence at Augusta National.
“You look at Augusta, I could draw on Dubai quite a lot,” Willett said, “how I played and how I played under pressure and how I composed myself mentally and having to hole a few key putts at the right time.”