Willett holds off Fitzpatrick challenge to lift title in Crans

Winner Danny Willett of England poses with the trophy after the final round of the Omega European Masters golf tournament in Crans-Montana, Switzerland, Sunday, July 26, 2015. (Peter Klaunzer/Keystone via AP)
Winner Danny Willett of England poses with the trophy after the final round of the Omega European Masters golf tournament in Crans-Montana, Switzerland, Sunday, July 26, 2015. (Peter Klaunzer/Keystone via AP)
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SHEFFIELD’S Danny Willett shot a five-under par 65 to win his third European Tour title in the Omega European Masters in Switzerland.

Willett began the day in the joint lead on 12 under with Matt Fitzpatrick – also from Sheffield – but clinched victory by one shot on 17 under overall thanks to a bogey-free final round at the picturesque Crans-sur-Sierre course in the Swiss Alps.

The 27-year-old, who finished in a tie for sixth at the Open last Monday, picked up his first European Tour victory since triumphing at the Nedbank Golf Challenge in South Africa in December.

Tyrrell Hatton completed an all-English top three when he carded a best-of-the-day 62 to finish two shots off the pace on 15 under, with Sweden’s Pelle Edberg (14 under) and India’s Anirban Lahiri (12 under) fourth and fifth respectively.

Willett trailed Fitzpatrick by a shot on 14 under going into the back nine after he could only pick up shots at the fifth and ninth.

But three successive birdies from the 13th saw him reclaim the lead and he never looked back.

He poured in a 25-foot putt up the green at the 13th to register his third birdie of the day and retake the lead on 15 under after former US Amateur champion Fitzpatrick, who carded four birdies and a bogey in an eventful front nine, added a second bogey on the par-three 11th to fall back to 14 under.

The 20-year-old recovered well to pick up two consecutive birdies at the 14th and 15th holes to keep the pressure on the leader but Willett responded superbly when he converted a birdie putt from close range at the 15th to retain his one-shot lead.

The victory margin could have been wider had Willett sunk a 10-foot birdie putt at the 17th, but it mattered little as Fitzpatrick failed to pick up shots at each of the final three holes.

Willett received a huge reception as he walked up to the 18th green and, needing a par to confirm victory, the Yorkshireman made no mistake from close range to earn his second Tour victory of the season.

Victory rounds off a very successful week for Willett following his exploits at St Andrews and he was more than pleased with his performance in Switzerland.

“I was very, very good. I kept very, very calm all day,” he said.

““I just waited for the right things to happen and get on a run.

“Fitzy played some great golf, kept the pressure on all day. Right up until the last me and (caddie) Johnny (Smart) said, ‘Be prepared just in case – stranger things have happened in golf’.

“But I’m delighted. A great day – I can’t be happier.”

Willett had been unwell when he posted a one-over-par 71 on Saturday but heralded his testing third round as being crucial to enabling him to earn victory 24 hours later.

“Saturday was probably the key day – obviously we shot 63, 64 and 65 and then obviously we chucked in the 71,” added the world No 32, who could climb into the top 25 with his latest victory.

“But Saturday was a key day to stay in contention.

“It was a tough day – the wind was flapping and I wasn’t feeling the greatest – but I really knuckled down to grind out a one over par. It was probably the day that made it.”

Fitzpatrick said: “I played to win but Danny just went one better, so you have to take your hat off to him.

“I don’t have any regrets whatsoever, and that’s all you can ask of yourself. I gave it everything, but Danny was very impressive.

“There were a couple of turning points which decided it, but I matched him birdie for birdie for the most part. I know Danny very well; he’s also from Sheffield so I’m very pleased for him.

“Overall, I’m really pleased with the week.

“It’s been building for a few weeks now, so hopefully I can get over the line at some stage.

“It’s still only my first season on Tour and I’m only 20, so I’m learning every week. Experiences like this will be invaluable in the future.”