Danny Willett continued his trend of winning in “stellar” events and set his sights on a second Ryder Cup appearance following his win at the BMW PGA Championship.
Willett held off Jon Rahm in a fascinating final-round duel at Wentworth to clinch his seventh European Tour title by a three-shot margin, claiming victory in the first qualifying event for the 2020 European Ryder Cup team.
The 31-year-old missed the cut in the showpiece last May as his world ranking slumped to 462nd, but he improved dramatically over the remainder of the season and landed a huge win at the DP World Tour Championship, lifting his first piece of silverware since his 2016 Masters triumph.
Willett has continued to make strides up the world rankings this year, and he believes his Wentworth triumph is the perfect platform to push for a Ryder Cup place next year, having endured a disappointing debut at Hazeltine in 2016.
“Any tournament win is amazing, but that’s now my seventh win on Tour and every single time I’ve won, they have been pretty stellar events against pretty stellar fields,” said the champion. “The Ryder Cup stuff, yeah, it’s the first event of what, 40-odd, whatever it’s going to be, in a year’s time when it’s back in America.
“It’s always nice and obviously there are going to be a lot of questions around that. I might be the guy that plays every Ryder Cup away from home, which will be great fun for me.”
Willett beats Rahm to BMW PGA win
Report and highlights from the final round of the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth.
Willett also revealed a more relaxed mindset was one of the biggest contributing factors in his first victory on home soil, admitting that he now puts less pressure on himself to close out wins when in contention.
He added: “It’s more about being able to compete under the pressure with everything that’s happened, having that self-belief in what you’re doing, the inner stuff that you say to yourself, the things that people don’t see on the outside, the hours you put in, what you’ve got to do and what you’ve got to sacrifice.
“I would have been completely happy with myself today if I had finished first or 10th, and I think that is the big difference. I think before, winning was one of the main things when you get in that position and that makes winning harder.
“For me, it was the ability to get in position, in contention, I think it is a lot harder than winning. So to be able to polish it off, and 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.
Get the best prices and book a round at one of 1,700 courses across the UK & Ireland
“To get in contention is the tricky part and it’s nice to be up there most of the week. So you get the butterflies, but you get that feeling every day, every morning, getting ready, getting warmed up. So it’s been an amazing week.”
One of the biggest turning points of the final round came at the 11th, when Willett looked in danger of relinquishing his lead as he lined up a 40-foot putt for bogey following a wayward drive and an escape attempt that hit a tree and landed in heather, while Rahm was 20 feet from the pin in two.
Willett hurt his wrist hacking out of trouble with his third, but he then drained the putt before Rahm had to settle for par, and the Yorkshireman said: “I’ve hit it lovely all week and that was the first time I didn’t have a great picture and didn’t stick to what I was doing, which was annoying.