Sunday, January 18, 2009

Another top 10 for Willett

Former JSU golfer Danny Willett pulled down another top 10 finish in this first full year on the European Tour.

Willett finished tied for eighth at the Abu Dhabi Golf Championships, posting a final round 67 for a 72-hole total 272 (16-under-par). He tied with Sergio Garcia, the No. 2 player in the world, five shots behind winner Paul Casey.

Willett was playing with British Open and PGA champion Padraig Harrington during the final round.

He finished tied for fourth last week in South Africa and has played his last two events in 28-under par. He earned nearly 35,000 euros for his play this week and is now 28th on the money list (87,883 euros).

In checking his season stats, he ranks 37th in stroke average (69.36), tied for 26th in driving distance (297.6) and 25th in scrambles. He's tied for 67th in driving accuracy, tied for 53rd in greens in regulation, tied for 72nd in putts per GIR, and tied for 60th in total putts per round (29.3).

Just based on his play the last two weeks alone, Willett could be the most successful golfer with a Calhoun County connection since 1976 U.S. Open champion Jerry Pate.

JSU golf coach James Hobbs never doubted Willett could have the type of success on the tour he's been enjoying lately and is proud to see what his former ace has been able to do on the world stage.

"I just think it's wonderful," Hobbs said. "I'm proud for him and I'm encouraged by what he's been able to do. I think right now him doing what he's done at such a young age really speaks highly for what he's going to be able to do in the future.

"He's on a stage with all the high profile players in Europe and he's finishing in the top 10. It just speaks to what kind of talent the boy has and what kind of future the boy has at that level."

There's also a benefit to JSU for what Willett has been able to do.

"I think when you watch a European Tour event now (on The Golf Channel) and they mention Danny Willett, most of the time they will mention our name and our school and the fact he played here for two years," Hobbs said.

We're making an effort to reach Willett for a piece in the print edition hopefully this week.

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