YORKSHIRE golf champion Danny Willett got his first taste of life as an international sports celebrity today as he returned to flash bulbs and autograph hunters at Manchester Airport.
The Masters winner touched down on UK soil on Tuesday morning after an overnight flight from New York and walked through the arrivals hall wearing his green jacket.
Willett had to run a gauntlet of photographers and well wishers before starting the final leg of his journey home to Sheffield to see wife Nicole and baby son Zachariah.
The 28-year-old was far from a household name before taking advantage of Jordan Spieth’s collapse to become the first British player in 20 years to win the Masters.
“It’s a nice way to get back into the airport,” he said with a smile. “It’s been pretty big in America but until you get home I don’t think you can quite realise the scale of what’s going on.”
More of the same was awaiting Willett at home, while a motion was tabled in Parliament congratulating him on his success, but he was confident of taking it all in his stride.
“The more you say it and things like this happen you start to realise just what we did and everything that’s going to go with it,” said the new world number nine.
Willett had expected to miss the Masters because Zachariah was not due until April 10 but he arrived early on March 29, allowing his dad to be at the birth before flying to the US.
He is now looking forward to some family time and adjusting to life both as a new parent and Britain’s newest sporting superstar.
“It’s still a bit crazy, everything’s still up in the air but I think it’ll start slowly sinking in,” he said. “I’ve got a couple of hours left then hopefully we’ll be able to go home and lock the door.”
Thr new champ arrived home at 1.40pm today and was forced to direct traffic himself, as around ten vehicles blocked the entrance to his home.
Two Network Rail vans were travelling past the golfer’s address and were met in a headlock with two scaffolding flatbed vehicles.
Danny left his silver Mercedes box van to sort out the problem himself and organised traffic outside his home on a tight country bend.
He disembarked the vehicle to ask gathering press to move their cars so the traffic furore could be sorted.
When offered champagne by a wellwisher as he arrived home, Danny said: “No it’s alright - you drink it yourself.”