Rising star Willett fitting the bill for major invitation to Wisconsin

DANNY WILLETT has played himself into contention for a major championship debut at next month's US PGA.

The 22-year-old Sheffield-born professional has reached a career-high world ranking of 89 thanks to a fifth-place finish at the French Open.

It was his fifth top-10 of the year and 13th in the 18 months since he earned his European Tour card at qualifying school at the end of 2008.

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The PGA Championship begins on Thursday, August 12, at Whistling Straits, Wisconsin. Major champions and other exemptions will be in the field, with the PGA of America completing the line-up by inviting players according to their world ranking.

Invitations usually extend as far as the top 90 in the world and it is understood that the PGA shows particular warmth to young players who have recently broken into the top 100, a category that Rotherham Golf Club member Willett fits perfectly.

There is no hard and fast rule however, with the PGA not even publishing when the cut-off point for invites is, although it is believed it will be the week commencing August 2, following the Irish Open.

Willett has that tournament, plus the Scottish Open and Scandinavian Masters either side of the Open at St Andrews – for which he has not qualified – to remove any uncertainty.

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Lee Westwood has pulled out of the star-studded JP McManus Pro-am in Ireland over the next two days in order to have intensive treatment on his leg injury.

The Open starts at St Andrews on Thursday week and is the priority for the world No 3, who missed out on a play-off by a shot at Turnberry last year.

Westwood limped through last week's French Open and flew home on Sunday admitting that his right calf problem got progressively worse.

Justin Rose claimed his second win on the PGA Tour in a month when he won the AT&T National at Aronimink in Pennsylvania on Sunday night.

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The Englishman, who claimed his maiden victory on American soil at the Memorial Tournament last month, fired a level-par round of 70 to hold off the charging Ryan Moore by a stroke.

Fulford hosts the Yorkshire Amateur Championship this week.

There are 165 players contesting the opening two days of strokeplay golf with the top 32 and ties progressing to the matchplay rounds, which begin on Thursday. The 36-hole final is scheduled for Saturday.

Champion Nigel Sweet (Moortown) is in the field, alongside last year's beaten finalist David Appleyard (South Leeds) and a host of young amateurs who have helped the county team establish a lead at the top of the Northern Counties League.