Former champion Danny Willett rates himself 80/20 to make return from injury at Masters

Former champion Danny Willett wants as difficult a Masters test as possible as he bids to return from injury at the scene of his biggest victory.

Willett carded a flawless closing 67 at Augusta National in 2016 to take full advantage of a late collapse from defending champion Jordan Spieth and claim his first major title.

The 36-year-old from Sheffield therefore has a lifetime exemption for the Masters but has faced a race against time to be fit to compete after undergoing shoulder surgery in September.

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“I played 18 holes plus the par-three course on Sunday but we’re still playing it by ear, seeing how the body holds up,” Willett said.

Danny Willett of England is hoping to be fit enough to play the Masters (Picture: Luke Walker/Getty Images for HSBC)Danny Willett of England is hoping to be fit enough to play the Masters (Picture: Luke Walker/Getty Images for HSBC)
Danny Willett of England is hoping to be fit enough to play the Masters (Picture: Luke Walker/Getty Images for HSBC)

“We’ve got three solid full days, (coach) Pete (Cowen) is here, Mikey (Burrow) my caddie is here so we’ve got enough time to get our heads together and work out what we want to achieve, what kind of shots we need and come up with a game plan that will match where we are with everything.

“You don’t want to come and just make up the numbers, you want to come and know you can hit certain shots and do certain things.

“The golf course is really, really good. It was fast and firm, it was playing really well so hopefully the weather can stay good all week and they can get it running really quick.

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“For me ideally it will be as difficult as possible so you have to manage your game around a little bit.

“Coming out in your first tournament and shooting 15, 16 under par is probably not going to be the easiest thing to do, but if it’s a case of managing your game and using your brain to get round it might help me.

“I played 27 holes on Sunday and woke up this morning and the body is fine so it’s really one of those where I’ll make the decision Wednesday night or Thursday morning.

“Unless something happens that I don’t like the feel of, I’m optimistic that I’ll be teeing it up on Thursday. It’s probably about 80/20 in favour right now.”

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Nelly Korda won her fourth consecutive tournament as she overpowered Ireland’s Leona Maguire in the final of the T-Mobile Match Play.

The world number one won four of the first seven holes on the Leopard Creek course in Las Vegas en route to a 4&3 victory.

Maguire, who topped the strokeplay section of the tournament before the top eight fought out the title in matchplay, finally won the ninth before falling five down on the 12th.

Two birdies from Maguire cut the deficit before the American closed out the match on the 15th.

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Korda has won all three of her tournaments since a seven-week break following the first victory of her run in Florida in January.

She is the first player to win four successive starts on the LPGA Tour since Lorena Ochoa in 2008.

Victory in the Chevron Championship, the first major of the season, in two weeks will tie the record of five straight wins held by Nancy Lopez and Annika Sorenstam.