Willett hoping to make most of early start

Sheffield's Danny Willett.
Sheffield's Danny Willett.
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Danny Willett is hoping for better scoring conditions this morning as he attempts to keep his Open challenge alive.

The 26-year-old from Sheffield – 15th at Muirfield last year – began his third Open with a two-over par 74, a score rescued only by birdies at the 15th and 18th holes in the early evening yesterday.

The blustery conditions on a sun-scorched Hoylake made for higher scores among the afternoon starters.

With showers forecast over the Wirral today, Willett feels the light rain expected in the morning might soften the greens and give him a better chance of clawing back a few shots.

Willett, out at 8.04am today, said: “There were a few front flags out there and with the greens being a bit softer Thursday morning and it not being as windy, the early starters could actually spin the ball and get it closer.

“(Yesterday) afternoon you didn’t really have a chance to get it close to the front flags. But that happens.

“The nicest draw is always 6.30 on a Thursday or a Friday and I’m off at 8am for my second round so it shouldn’t be too bad. Hopefully we get a calmer day.”

Willett dropped shots on his first two holes and then bogeyed eight and 14 before pulling two back coming in.

The birdie on the par-five 18th owed much to a booming drive down the centre of the fairway, one of only three times he pulled the big stick out of his bag.

While he may use driver more often today, Willett will not go chasing a score on a course that can quickly bare its teeth.

“You can’t attack an Open golf course,” said Willett, who, now under the coaching of Mike Walker – the man who tutors Lee Westwood and Sheffield’s Matt Fitzpatrick – has not missed a cut all year.

“I’ve not shot myself in the foot with a 74; I can still go out and post a score in the morning. But it’s disappointing with how I’ve been playing and how things have been going.

“I’ll head to the range and iron out a few of the kinks.

“I’m only two or three shots off a pretty good position.”