Masters beckons after Willett reaches top 50

AUGUSTA-BOUND: Yorkshire's Danny Willett has broken into the top 50 in the world or the first time.
AUGUSTA-BOUND: Yorkshire's Danny Willett has broken into the top 50 in the world or the first time.
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Danny Willett will make his Masters debut in April after breaking into the world’s top 50.

The 27-year-old from Sheffield – winner of the Nedbank Challenge earlier this month – finishes 2014, a year of improved consistency, in 50th place in the world. One of the exemption categories for the Masters is players inside the top 50 at the end of the year.

Willett’s victory at the Nedbank Challenge in Sun City saw him climb to 56th in the world.

The following week he moved up to 51st on the strength of a tied-fourth finish at the Alfred Dunhill Championship.

And even though he was inactive at the weekend, he rose that 
final, crucial place because American Kevin Streelman dropped from 50th position. It caps a breakthrough 2014 for Willett who ended last year in 116th.

He tweeted: “Didn’t want to post anything until it was official!! Week 52.. OWGR #50 boom!!”

The Masters is the only major in which the two-time European Tour winner has yet to play.

He has played in seven majors, making the cut in four. He played three this year but his best result came at the 2013 Open at Muirfield when he finished 15th.

Malton’s Simon Dyson finished the year in 117th, a rise of 54 places. Hull’s Richard Finch has dropped to 545th after finishing strongly in 2013 and rising to 266th, while John Parry ends the year in 661st.

Sheffield’s Matt Fitzpatrick – who ended 2013 as the world’s top-ranked amateur – is 413th in the pro ranks.

Huddersfield’s Nick Marsh finishes the year as the 23rd ranked amateur in the world.

Marsh, 20, won the English Amateur championship and Scottish Youths title in 2014. He is a member of the England squad.