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DUBAI DUTY FREE IRISH OPEN HOSTED BY THE RORY FOUNDATION

May 19, 2016

Danny Willett

Straffan, Co. Kildare, Ireland

Q. You've played some excellent rounds of golf recently but how was that?
DANNY WILLETT: It was nice, obviously coming off a pretty poor week last week and getting here Monday and trying to get some work done with Pete and Mike and get everything sorted out. And obviously we got dropped on with the weather this morning and we've had it obviously windy but no showers and stuff. Yeah, 7-under out there is a fantastic score.

Q. I know you've seen this course Ryder Cup-wise on TV but never played it. What's your impression now you have?
DANNY WILLETT: It's a fantastic golf course. Every hole's different. There's a few really challenging holes, a few good, fun holes. They can move the tees around and make it a completely different golf course, as well. For the time of year, it's in fantastic condition.

Yeah, you know, any time you get to play a fantastic golf course and you're obviously in good nick, you're always happy.

Q. First competitive round on this side of the Atlantic since you won the Masters, what's been the reception, because we know how passionate and fantastic they are.
DANNY WILLETT: Support is massive. Just shows the players they have churned out over the years. And it's been brilliant, you get clapped onto tees, clapped onto greens. Brilliant, like I say, even if you're playing bad, you can't not enjoy it out here.

Q. 7-under 65, what was clicking for you in the first round?
DANNY WILLETT: We putted great today. We never were really in too much trouble but then holed a good amount of footage out there which is obviously a bonus and the greens are running pretty good. They held up quite well even with the rain this morning. Delighted with 65.

Q. At what point during your first round did you know you could take it fairly deep given the conditions?
DANNY WILLETT: We started off a little scrappy and then we just kept plodding along. Tried not to make too many mistakes. We had seen that there are a few scores in and around 2- or 3-under par, which we were looking at being a really good score. Yeah, just seemed to get hot with the putter on the back nine and rolled a few in and not too many mistakes.

Q. Your first event since donning the green jacket here in Europe. What was it like getting the reception?
DANNY WILLETT: It was great. Obviously last week in America was pretty cool, the fans out there are great. It's always good to come back to Europe and see the reception, how people have taken it, and in Ireland especially, so yes, it was good fun.

Q. Your reaction to the chain of events with Muirfield and the R&A?
DANNY WILLETT: R&A did what they had to do. Golf is an old-fashioned sport but we've got to change. Seems a bit silly in my eyes to not be able to change with the times and the R&A jumped on it right away and I think they made a good decision.

Q. Spectacular start for The Irish Open campaign.
DANNY WILLETT: I'd have taken it this morning. Woke up and looked out the window and it was miserable and raining. Yeah, we got dropped on. Great being the group behind Rory and stuff, playing with Westy and Rafa, so just a really good day all around. Holed a few putts and you walk off with a good score.

Q. Putter seemed to be working well today.
DANNY WILLETT: It was very good. Again, been doing a lot of work and last week didn't quite go as we planned but like I said in the press conference, we were still a little bit tired, a little bit rusty with all the things we had to do. This week has been trying to get back to what I do and try to get grinding and it's obviously paid off thus far.

Q. Events at Augusta, life-changing for you, what's life been like, and is it nice to be back playing some golf?
DANNY WILLETT: Yeah, it is. Things have been a bit mental, very busy and stuff, but it's just great to be back in Europe playing golf, being around the lads that I've obviously played golf with for the last eight years.

Very happy to be back here.

Q. Great position heading into the next three days?
DANNY WILLETT: Yeah, first is never bad after one day. There's still three days left and a lot can happen, a lot can happen with the weather and stuff. Hopefully get a good bit of rest. Little Man and Nic are out tonight, which is nice, I get to see them, and yeah, see if we can do it again tomorrow.

Q. What did you make of the setup of the course? Is it pretty much what you expected?
DANNY WILLETT: Yeah, the golf course is in great condition. The rough's obviously a juicy in places and the greens are very, very good for this time of year. It's a great golf course, first time I've been able to play this place, ever, really, this week. I think they have had a fantastic turnout.

Q. You must enjoy coming to Ireland?
DANNY WILLETT: It's always good in Ireland. Great crowds. Obviously we play some of the best courses around. Last year was obviously County Down, it was fantastic. I've never been able to play The K Club and it's a fantastic place, and obviously The Ryder Cup back in 2006. It's been good to come back and get my feet back home, I guess, in Europe and be able to play well.

Q. Do you feel an ease now that you're a Major Champion, a weight off your shoulders? Do you think it will be free and easy?
DANNY WILLETT: No, because you kind of keep setting your bars for different things and hope that you keep playing well. You try not to get expectations too high but at the end of the day, we're all striving to keep doing better every time we go out there and play. It is tricky to keep yourself, I don't know, kind of not expecting too much.

We did a good job today and just kind of try and played every shot as it came and try and enjoy it with the guys and with the fans out there.

Q. The forecast suited you and might suit you again in the morning.
DANNY WILLETT: Yeah, we would have dropped if it gets good in the morning -- it's one of them I think today was a tale of two halves really. 3-under this morning was a fantastic score, and to be able to go four back this afternoon through the conditions.

Q. You put the work in on the range this weekend. Do you find the course suits your eye?
DANNY WILLETT: It's a great golf course. There's a lot of different shots that you've got to hit out there. Rough's up and greens are running pretty good for this time of year. The golf course, it's good fun.

Q. When you come back as Masters Champion, you come back to The European Tour and do that, you must feel very, very proud of yourself and what you did?
DANNY WILLETT: It was a good day. Played some really good golf. Got off to a pretty scrappy start and chipped a few birdies in and got a bit hot with the putter. Can't really go out there expect to shoot any kind of number and 65 was far beyond my expectations for today, especially after waking up with it a bit raining.

Q. Have you consciously brought an attitude this week to keep continue down low a little bit, but also know you're the Masters Champion and you should be in with a chance of winning?
DANNY WILLETT: Every time you pitch up you're trying to win. Even before I won the Masters, you're trying to perform well. In that respect, nothing's changed. But yeah, I've not been able to do as much work as I wanted to over the last month and a half, so I've put a good bit of time in on the range this week and everywhere else and getting a good look at the golf course. Like I say, sometimes it doesn't pay off but you still try and work hard and luckily we've been able to post a good number.

Q. Would be nice to back it up with another win back here in this part of the world.
DANNY WILLETT: Like I say, to win a major in your career is fantastic. To win a major and a normal tournament in the same season is great and if you win anymore, it goes down as a fantastic year. We're going to keep working hard and hopefully keep playing well.

Q. What would it be like to go down the stretch with Rory on Sunday; is that something you would like to do?
DANNY WILLETT: I think that would be good fun.

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