Willett and Finch at tour crossroads as they get in swing

THE European Tour season may be three tournaments old already but for Yorkshire golfers Danny Willett and Richard Finch, this week's Joburg Open marks the start of what could be a pivotal year.

Both men will be chasing victory in South Africa and throughout the world on tour this season for very different reasons; Sheffield's Willett to finally launch his career into orbit and 33-year-old Finch, from Hull, to help revive his.

Willett, 23, has been knocking on the victory door since turning professional midway through 2008.

He has notched 16 top-10 finishes and last year put in sustained challenges at the BMW PGA Championship and the Alfred Dunhill Links in Scotland, two of the tour's flagship events.

He also made his major debut at the US PGA and courtesy of a 23rd-place finish in the 'Race to Dubai', will make his Open Championship bow at Royal St George's in July.

"People are starting to notice the progress I've made," said Willett, who begins the year with a new club manufacturer having swapped Ping for Callaway.

"I feel comfortable in the heat of battle, just nervous enough for the adrenalin to be flowing but not too nervous that I can't hold a putter.

"As I've said before, if I knock on the door often enough, eventually it's going to open. I must not let the frustration of not winning that first title get to me. I know I'm good enough and once I get one under my belt, more will follow."

Of all the courses on Willett's schedule, this week's is one he will have earmarked as a potential place to break his duck. On his two previous appearances at Royal Johannesburg and Kensington he has finished in a tie for fourth.

On his first visit in 2009 he was three shots behind winner Anders Hansen and then 12 months ago he came home nine shots adrift of runaway winner Charl Schwartzel, having held the lead at one stage.

Willett's worst round at Royal Johannesburg and Kensington is a level-par 71.

Finch has not been as close in the South African capital but after two years without a win his priority in 2011 is to finish in the top 115 in the 'Race to Dubai' as his two-year exemption after winning the 2008 Irish Open has expired.

Finch placed 64th last year on the order of merit, narrowly missing out on a place in the Dubai World Championship, having slumped to 110th the year before.

He finished runner-up twice last year, in India and Andalucia.

Malton's Simon Dyson and John Parry join the pair in Abu Dhabi next week for the start of the four-tournament gulf swing.