Danny Willett celebrated his birthday in style as he secured a return to the season-ending DP World Tour Championship after picking up an eighth European Tour title at the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship.
The 2018 DP World Tour Championship winner, who turned 34 yesterday, started the final round on the Old Course at St Andrews with a three-stroke lead and remained at the top of the leaderboard throughout the day, making the turn in three under par.
His fifth birdie of the day followed on the tenth hole and he parred his way home to sign for a four under 68, a two-stroke victory, and his first win since the 2019 BMW PGA Championship.
The Englishman was in real danger of missing out the fourth and final Rolex Series event of the year at Jumeirah Golf Estates after failing to register a top ten in his first 11 events on the Race to Dubai as he battled Covid-19, wisdom teeth, appendicitis and a hernia.
That left the 2016 Masters winner in 123rd in the Race to Dubai, well off the top 50, before victory at the Home of Golf rocketed him up to 23rd to secure a tenth appearance at the DP World Tour Championship.
“To win here, to be British and to be able to win on British soil, to win at the Home of Golf, this is a very special one,” said an emotional Willett. “Especially after how the last kind of year and a half has been for everyone involved. Especially for us, we’ve struggled a little bit with things.
“This one, for everyone watching, this seems quite out of the blue but the practice I’ve been doing at home and the inner belief we have every time we get in and out of position to do something was proven again.
“Doesn’t matter where it is, who it’s against, it’s just a question of if the game is in shape. When it is, we’re all right.”
Meanwhile, Spanish duo and Dubai residents, Adri Arnaus and Rafa Cabrera Bello, have a battle on their hands to make the final event of the season. Arnaus took small steps towards the top 50 after climbing six places to 77th with a share of 24th in Scotland but still has plenty of work to do to secure a third successive appearance while Cabrera Bello dropped five places to 75th after failing to make the cut.