Danny Willett doesn't always go out of his way to make you feel comfortable, and that might be why he's such a tough competitor. As his teacher, Mike Walker, says, "He was the No. 1 amateur in the world in 2008, so he expects a lot of himself. He's not unfriendly. He's single-minded."A 2007 Walker Cup standout from England, Willett had to learn patience as a pro. It wasn't until 2012 that he captured the BMW International, the first of his three European Tour titles. Since then, he has put himself in position on Sunday many times. He won the Omega European Masters in July, and a week earlier, he found himself one stroke out of the 36-hole lead at the British Open at St. Andrews, and wound up finishing T-6, his best showing in a major.
As Willett refines his swing, mainly working to eliminate the miss to the left, look for great things. "He's become a much better putter this year," according to Walker, who says he gives Willett drills that would help the average golfer, including hitting balls with only the right or left arm. "They magnify the problem so we know what to work on," Walker says.
PRO-FILE: DANNY WILLETT
28 / 5-11 / 170 pounds / Sheffield, EnglandDriver: Callaway XR 10.5 degrees / Ball: Callaway SR3
RIGHT HIP DOWN
At address, Danny Willett likes to have the ball under his left shoulder, pre-setting a slightly upward strike. "When he struggles, his right hip gets too high, causing his hips to point left," says his swing coach, Mike Walker. "Getting the right hip lower is a good thought for most players with the driver."
HOLD OFF THE HINGE
Willett hinges his wrists earlier on the backswing than most tour players do. "We've inherited that," Walker says. "We're working on making him longer with his right arm and keeping his wrists quieter on the takeaway." That added extension will help Willett load the club correctly and unload it more efficiently.
QUIET LOWER BODY
Getting to the top, Willett elevates his left arm for more extension. "If you looked at Danny's swing from down the line, you'd see his left arm is on his shoulder line or slightly above it at the top. It used to be under the shoulders," Walker says. "Also, notice how stable his lower body is. That gives him tremendous torque."
SUPER LAG ACTION
Starting down, Willett creates a lot of lag (the angle between his left arm and the clubshaft). On the move into impact, Walker says, "He swings the handle down and to the left at the same time. He used to throw the javelin in school, and that's a similar move with the right hand." It helps deliver the club squarely to the ball.
CLAMP THE ARMS
The shaft is leaning forward at impact, but the sweet spot is in line with the left shoulder. "He feels like his arms are clamped under his shoulders so there's no extra movement," Walker says. "His left wrist is in perfect position given his strong left-hand grip, and his right wrist is bent, discouraging a hook."
A FREE FINISH
Willett looks as if he's freewheeling the club through the strike, holding nothing back. Note his arm extension when the clubshaft is parallel with the ground. "This full release and his perfectly balanced finish are symptoms of a good delivery position at impact," Walker says. "Danny could hold his finish for a long time.