Willett goes under the radar again in Masters defence

Defending champion Danny Willett was left praying for some help from the "golfing gods" after suffering more misery on the opening hole at Augusta National in the 81st Masters.

One of the joys of The Masters is the familiarity of the golf track.

The day's second stoppage cut short the final afternoon of practice before Thursday morning's start of the first major of the year and marked the second day this week that play was suspended.

In other words, the American has played 216 competitive holes at one of the most hard golf courses on the planet and come a cropper once.

The 29-year-old also bogeyed the fourth, 11th and 18th in a second round of 78 to finish seven over par, a shot outside the projected cut and 11 behind clubhouse leaders Sergio Garcia and Charley Hoffman.

By his own admission, Danny Willett has struggled to adapt to being a major victor.

"The last 12 months has been somewhat of a rollercoaster within life and golf", he admitted.




Willett, who selected a Sunday roast for yesterday's champion's dinner, the traditional meal selected by the previous year's victor, will head out alongside American Kuchar, who won bronze at last year's Olympic Games in Rio, and Australian Luck at 12.24pm local time.

In the 12 months since, Willett has struggled for form, managing only four top ten finishes and enduring a nightmare Ryder Cup debut at Hazeltine where he lost all three of his matches.

"He played the ball back in the stance, got a bit steep on it and hit it a fraction fat".

He's enjoyed the perks that have come with that status - wearing the green jacket in public with pride, the coveted No. 1 badge reserved for the defending champion, even planning Tuesday night's Champions Dinner. You've done it once, so why can't you do it every time you play?

However, I feel strongly that it would be foolish to back Johnson to win this year's Masters. "To not have him here, it's going to be a sad week", Willett said. "You don't realize what you've achieved until you kind of see the reactions".

"I think the biggest thing is that there's a lot of expectation that is put on our shoulders because of it and everything is result-driven, and it's not about what people think or expect or try and put you up against". They're taking more time and effort into finding out where not to go more than where to go. He has now added another PGA Tour title to his collection, is hitting more greens in regulation than anybody else on the PGA Tour and is still holing those putts.

As ever, Augusta is a week in which legends are both made and slayed, and where careers can be set on unexpected paths - good and bad.

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