Today’s Willett of the day, Daniel Willett, was a member of the 2007 Great Britain and Ireland Walker Cup golf team, which explains the strange headline on this story from Golfweek: “Walker Cupper Willett Turns Pro.” Until I read on, I thought the guy’s name was, well, Walker Cupper Willett, which seemed a bit eccentric, but since my middle name is the pretty much unique Chane, who am I to talk?
The native of Rotherham, England turns his back on a successful amateur career that saw him go from a relative unknown to the No. 1 player in the R&A’s world amateur rankings. He is No. 8 in the Golfweek/Scratch Players World Amateur Rankings.
Willett’s decision to turn pro came after successful starts in two European Tour events this season. Willett finished 19th in the Andalucian Open in March and placed 10th in the Spanish Open at the start of this month.
Willett then skipped the Brabazon Trophy – the English Amateur Stroke Play Championship – last weekend to concentrate on getting ready for his professional debut in Wales.“I felt the time was right to turn pro after playing in the two professional tournaments earlier this year,” Willett said. “I felt comfortable playing in those events. I didn’t feel out of place, and felt I was capable of playing at that level. I didn’t want to hang around and not take the opportunity now.
Willett attended Jacksonville State University but quit after his sophomore year to play full-time amateur golf. Willett rose to prominence when he defeated Rory McIlroy in the second round of the British Amateur Championship. He followed up that feat by winning the English Amateur championship and the South of England Championship to earn a place on the GB & I Walker Cup team which played at Royal County Down last year.
He began the year by winning the Spanish Amateur Championship in March, a victory that earned him invitations to the two European Tour events in Spain.
Willett then backed up his Spanish Amateur triumph by winning the Australian Amateur Stroke Play Championship at Royal Adelaide Golf Club in April.