After a whirlwind month since winning the Masters Tournament, Danny Willet will make his first appearance on European soil in this week’s Irish Open Hosted by the Rory Foundation.
Thirty-seven days after his heroics at Augusta National, Willett’s life is only now starting to regain a sense of normality. And whilst the Englishman has undoubtedly enjoyed basking in the limelight, he is equally keen to get back to what he does best: namely winning golf tournaments.
The four weeks Willett took off following his life-changing victory was the longest break he has taken since joining the pro ranks in 2008.
Understandably, there was a fair degree of rust in the system upon his return to action on the US PGA Tour last week, and a missed cut was not altogether unexpected.
But after a productive session on the practise range on Monday with his two coaches, Pete Cowen and Mike Walker, Willett feels confident of building on the sizeable lead he has established at the top of the Race to Dubai Rankings.
Meanwhile, of the home contingent, Shane Lowry has targeted a repeat of his win as a fresh-faced amateur, which took place precisely seven years ago.
On a wet and wild day at Baltray on May 17, 2009, Lowry entered the nation’s affections with a remarkable display which was surpassed only by the scenes of unbridled joy which followed.
Lowry remains the last amateur to win on the European Tour, and even though he has claimed two more victories since then – most notably at last year’s WGC-Bridgestone Invitational – he still cites his breakthrough win as the highlight of his career so far.
Danny Willett: “There are a lot of commitments you’ve got to do on and off the golf course. No one really prepares you for that. You can’t quite understand what guys like Rory [McIlroy] and Jordan [Spieth] go through until you experience it yourself.
“My time management has become more important than ever, and I’m still just getting used to everything. I’m sure that as the weeks go on and other guys win events, it will settle down.
“But you’ve got to embrace it and enjoy it. It’s been a busy four weeks and I’ve loved every minute of it, but it’s nice to get back to the day job.”
Shane Lowry: “To win your home tournament as an amateur – I don’t think many people will do that in the game. So it’s nice to say I’ve done it. Seven years is a long time, but I don’t know where those seven years have gone. I feel like I’ve come a long way as a player and as a person in that time.
“But because I’ve won it once, doesn’t mean I’m, happy to sit back and relax this week. Far from it – I’d love to win it as a pro some day, as well.”
Padraig Harrington: “I don’t know what technology has done to the game now, so it will be interesting to see this week how tough the golf course plays. Certainly there are a few tee shots out there that may not give me sleepless nights, but I’ll still be happy to get through them. There’s lots of difficulty on the golf course, so I’m really looking forward to seeing what it’s like and seeing how things have evolved.”