DANNY WILLETT’S victory at Augusta last April carried with it so many rewards, starting with a winner’s cheque for more than €1.5m.
It also propelled him to a new level of exemption on the PGA Tour, and earned him the right to play in the game’s first major championship of the year for the rest of his life.
But above all these, the 29-year-old from Sheffield rates an article of clothing whose monetary value is placed at around a comparitively modest $250.
The win means Willett has life membership of Augusta, a position marked by the right to wear the Green Jacket, the most famous piece of apparel in golf.
“Yes, you get your exemptions on Tour and this that and the other, and gain exemption into a major for the rest of your life,” says Willett. “But to have your Green Jacket up in your own locker – that is Augusta down to a tee.”
He has made full use of the privilege that permits Masters winners to take the Green Jacket away from the club during the year after their triumph, and is wearing it as he sits at Rotherham Golf Club and talks about defending his title next week.
There were plenty of punters who could have afforded to splash out the sterling equivalent of $250 on new clothing for themselves after members at Rotherham and Lindrick – he belongs to both – backed him to succeed last year.
One punter from Lindrick turned up at his local bookmakers to find they had run out of cash the morning after the Masters’ conclusion.
“It was nice to know that you get a pretty good support in Yorkshire,” he smiles. “I imagine there were a few bookies around here who got wiped out that Monday morning.”
No one would be weeping for them, I suggest, and he laughs. “The bookies might have cried, but I’ve never seen a poor bookie yet so I’m sure they can take it.”
If you can’t enjoy going back to defend a major championship then there is something wrong.2016 Masters champion, Danny Willett.
Rotherham GC has honoured him by renaming their centenary lounge ‘The Danny Willett Masters Lounge’.
And the sport’s record books will give an eternal nod in his direction, too, as one of an elite minority of its exponents who have laid claim to a major title, of which there are but four, the others being the Open, the US Open and the US PGA.
Would achieving golfing immortality finally sink in when, as the man defending his crown, he hosts the Champions’ Dinner on the eve of the tournament?
“I think it has already hit home,” he reflects. “The thing is, no one can take away what you achieved that day and what you did.
“Going to the Champions’ Dinner and being able to go to the Champions’ Dinner for the rest of your life and to be able to play in the Masters for as long as you see fit – it is one of the unique things about what we did. It is that special.
“I wrote my little bit in history and no one can ever take that away.”
Willett has been unforthcoming about full details of the Champions’ Dinner menu, which it is his duty and honour to choose.
But surely a proud son of Yorkshire could not pass up the chance to treat those assembled – the vast majority of whom will be American with a few internationals thrown in – to the delights of Yorkshire pudding?
He grins and replies: “I think it will be wrong not to introduce people to Yorkshire pudding. We will have to see where that fits in.”
Whether Willett can find the required ingredients in his game to win back-to-back titles at Augusta is up for discussion, with the player himself having the loudest and most critical voice.
He has been assessing the statistcal analysis of his performances, sifting through the numbers to ensure any work on his game is applied to the areas requiring most attention.
“I think you have got to look back and to kind of get a bit of a different look on it,” he explains.
“You have got to look through stats and other things and assess where the game is properly and not just through where it feels like it is.
“You need to actually get a realistic view of what has happened and what has gone on and then I think you can either gain confidence from that or go on and work on the correct things, instead of just saying, ‘I feel like I need to do this’ or ‘I feel like this is good or bad’. You need to put a proper perspective on it to get the most out of yourself and get the most out of your game to realise where you are at, at this moment in time.”
Although he will be attempting to do what only Jack Nicklaus, Nick Faldo and Tiger Woods have done in the past, and defend his Augusta title, Willett feels no added pressure.
“If you can’t enjoy what is about to happen to me then there is no point practising and working as hard as we do,” he says. “You need to enjoy your achievements. If you can’t enjoy going back to defend a major championship then there is something wrong.”