The Open: Yorkshireman Willett leading the English charge at Open as St Andrews braced for winds

England's Danny Willett celebrates his putt on the 15tt at St Andrews.
England's Danny Willett celebrates his putt on the 15tt at St Andrews.
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Sheffield’s Danny Willett believes he now has the mindset to match his game and that it can elevate him to the next level.

The 27-year-old shot a six-under 66 in testing afternoon conditions to earn a share of second place in the first round of the Open at St Andrews as the leading Englishman.

He has had a mixed year so far with third place in the WGC-Cadillac Match Play, finished 38th at the Masters but missed the cut at last month’s US Open.

However, the world No 39 feels that is not a true reflection of where he is at right now.

“Since the US Open and French Open I have played good golf,” he said.

“It’s the more you play with the guys, the more you realise that they don’t do things a great deal better than you, if not at all.

“The more and more you’re in and around this atmosphere and in and around this kind of golf the more you realise ‘Actually, yeah, I’m pretty equipped to do pretty well out here’.”

The weather turned yesterday afternoon but today it is expected to be even worse with gusts up to 40mph.

Willett admits it is difficult to worry too much about the conditions, although talk of the severity has undoubtedly made an impression on the players.

“It could be Armageddon from the looks of the weather forecast,” added the Yorkshireman.

“If you’ve got control of your ball you know you can still make birdies. When it starts to get worse, it can be a little bit of a lottery.”

A bottle of whisky and a sense of humour eased the pain of Sir Nick Faldo’s worst round in the Open Championship.

Three-time champion Faldo, who won his second Open title at St Andrews in 1990, struggled to an 11-over-par 83 to prop up the rest of the field, carding eight bogeys and a triple bogey on the 14th.

“That was hard work,” said Faldo, who will celebrate his 58th birthday tomorrow.

“You can’t fall out of a TV tower and come and play in an Open. Silly boy.

“I’m not a golfer any more. You come here to try to do your best, but these guys play every day of the week and it’s a tough golf course.

“I’m not even a part-time golfer. We got the rough end of the day because you know what [yesterday] morning was like, flat calm. Yeah, I blame it on the conditions,” he smiled..

“Luckily I’ve got a bottle of Glenmorangie at home, so I’ll be all right [for today].

“I’ll be refuelled. I feel like I’ve let the leaders get away from me now, so I don’t think I have to worry about anything rather than staying dry.”

Asked if he would be able to enjoy the second round, Faldo added: “I will, of course I will. I’m here with my boy and my family is here and my friends. Bottom line is I still did it 25 years ago. You know, I’m still very grateful for that.”

Faldo originally said this would be his last Open before saying he could still play at Troon next year, but added: “I’ll let you know. When I walk to the Swilcan Bridge (on the 18th), I’ll let you know.”