Willett leads English challenge at Open

Sheffield's Danny Willett on the 18th during day one of The Open Championship.
Sheffield's Danny Willett on the 18th during day one of The Open Championship.
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Sheffield’s Danny Willett believes he now has the mindset to match his game and that 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 number 39 feels that is not a true reflection of where he is now at.

“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 on Thursday afternoon but on Friday 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.”