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November 15, 2016

Danny Willett

Dubai, United Arab Emirates

MICHAEL GIBBONS: Good morning, everyone. Welcome, thanks for joining us, as always.

Last week of the season. Here we are. Thoughts going into it, Danny. Obviously I think we all know the permutations, what needs to happen for to you win The Race to Dubai. Give us your thoughts. Good finish last week; you must have a bit more confidence coming into this week.

DANNY WILLETT: Yeah, it's been a very turbulent year; we've had the ultimate of highs and a few real lows the last few months, and you know, now like you say, here we are. We've got four rounds of golf left in what's been a pretty long season, and slightly different situation to last year, but still need to win the golf tournament to win The Race to Dubai.

300,000 points behind Henrik, so looking at it, I think it's one of them, the permutations you can look at, but if we can do what we can control this week and we can win a golf tournament, then, you know, nobody can kind of take it way from us.

It's a nice situation to be in, hoping for other people to finish outside of the top five, top ten. We're in a situation, as is potentially Noren, I'm not quite sure, I don't know how it all works out, as to where with we finish the golf tournament, yeah, we take it all.

Yeah, could be an exciting week. A little bit more confidence after the last couple rounds last week. It was nice to kind of finally get a few nice rounds under par and get some good feelings back there, and yeah, come to a golf course now that doesn't necessarily suit me 100 per cent as much as it does the other guys. But you know, if we can get it in play off the tee then it definitely suits good mid-iron play which is one of our strengths, and good putting.

Yeah, looking forward to what could be a very nice end to what's been a very up year I guess.

Q. I was going to ask, but it sounds like you do know different scenarios. Have you looked at them in detail, like if you finish fourth and Henrik has to finish in the top 30, things like that?
DANNY WILLETT: No, I haven't looked at that stuff. What I'm worrying about, as long as I can come in here and win, that's the main thing, really.

I think if you look at, I don't know actually, over the last few years, it usually is the guy who wins this event wins, Rory won, Henrik won, Westy won; there's obviously a lot more points weighing on this event. It is a situation where like I said, if you win, you win. It's a good place to be.

I think most of the people are -- I'm not quite sure about Noren's situation. He's still a few 100,000 points behind me and behind Henrik. So even if he wins, he may need Henrik to maybe not -- I won't be, I haven't looked at it enough. All I know is that if I can play good golf this week and do what I can do, and you know, come Sunday, potentially come away winning the golf tournament, you know, luckily enough there's a nice added bonus that you win The Race to Dubai with it, as well.

It's an interesting week. Again, we're in a situation, 52 weeks ago we were sat here in the same place, second place. It's not a bad place to be. It would be much better sat here in first, but there's still one week left and there's still a chance to get to No. 1.

There's a lot of pluses, really, for me this week. There's not a great deal of pressure. It's, you know, you're in second; it's one of those things, kind of a win/win. If we can somehow topple Henrik, that would be fantastic. If we don't, so be it. I think potentially at the end of the season it may be easier to be sat here chasing someone down this week than potentially trying to hold onto a lead.

Q. If I can just ask, as well, the last two rounds last week, was that a case of finding something different, or just finally the work paying off, all the hard work you've been doing?
DANNY WILLETT: Yeah, a little bit. Like I said, it's a funny old game. I was up at half five every morning in the gym, on the range, practicing, training, doing your bits. Some days you play good and some days you play bad.

It was nice to get the last two rounds where I actually allowed myself to play golf. I didn't try to swing it perfectly and I didn't try to do anything you do on the range on the golf course. I just tried to go play golf. It was one of them things that at times, you've just got to -- you have to give where yourself a pat on the back and get out of your own way and just allow yourself to play golf again. You've worked hard enough and you know that you can hit the shots. It's actually just saying, right, I'm going to try and hit it and if I don't hit it, that is what it is.

But then recently I've been trying to hit a perfect shot, not quite doing it, and then all of a sudden it kind of spirals down a little bit, and from nowhere you're a couple over when you feel like you've not really done that much wrong. It was nice to kind of just allow myself to kind of play golf and hit good golf shots, and not necessarily hit perfect, but hit good enough golf shots to make a score; and that is all this game is about at times. Yeah, it was a good weekend, a lot of good things.

Q. We were speaking to Pete Cowen yesterday and he said he would understand if you really take it easy for the next couple of days and just rest, and going into the tournament rested and refreshed and going straight into the tournament. Is that something how you plan to do -- I know you're playing the Pro-Am today, but is that something you need to do today and tomorrow and just put your hundred per cent into the tournament?
DANNY WILLETT: Yeah, I was up at 7.00 in the gym this morning, so I'm not resting too much. But yeah, obviously been working with Mike and Pete now for three years, and they know my game very well and they know me very well. They know that this year has been very taxing mentally, physically, and it's come to the end of it.

Yeah, we've been a little bit tired and it's been a long old year. I think the guys are just trying to get it across to where you've done enough work, you don't necessarily keep to keep grinding yourself down all the time. Maybe just take it easy a little bit and let yourself play golf.

So we'll see what happens when we get out on the range this afternoon and before the Pro-Am and hopefully, like you say, we've got a nice Pro-Am today to play with the guys. And then we've got a full day tomorrow then to work out how best we go about preparing for Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday.

So yeah, we'll just have to see what happens.

Q. And could I also ask you, if you were not the Masters Champion, would you have had this kind of a busy schedule? Would you have pursued such a busy schedule --
DANNY WILLETT: I'd be 2.1 million points behind (laughing).

Q. Do you take your responsibility as a Major Champion -- you really take it very well, and you want to play a lot of the events to keep the sponsors happy and things like that, but if you were not, would you have played a lot less events this year?
DANNY WILLETT: I don't know. This year was obviously always going to be a busy year with Ryder Cup and the Olympics. I actually only added one event into the schedule, which was for a good friend of mine, Marco, BMW. That's the only event I actually added in late on. All the others were already going to be in there.

The Olympics was always -- you knew it was always going to be there, The Ryder Cup was always in. So I think within this year, where the Olympics and The Ryder Cup falls, it's two extra tournaments. People don't think it sounds that much but two extra tournaments with the travel, and especially where the events were, it does take that little bit more out of you.

And you know, I'm looking at the schedule, me and Chubby have had a little chat and we'll sit down this week and look at the schedule next year again, we have some decisions to make. I have joined the PGA TOUR, as well, but we're still going to play full-time in Europe, as well.

So it's just getting a good balance and sticking to a good schedule and making sure we play enough events around the world, but also that we stay strong within Europe and we play the great European Tour events to help grow the game within Europe, as well.

Q. Just on the same theme, what part do you think that hectic schedule has played in your topsy-turvy year, and is it something that you have to look at closely, do you think, for next season?
DANNY WILLETT: No, like I said, the Olympics and Ryder Cup, then obviously backing on to that you have the Dunhill and British Masters; it does make for a busy time. We all try and play the Dunhill, and Mr. Rupert is a fantastic sponsor of the tournament, always has been, so we try to help him out. And obviously the British Masters, I was hoping to play, but again that was one, and then the World Cup, that was just a step too far. If you look at the end of it, we'll have probably played 30 this year which is probably three more than we'd like to, four more than we'd like to.

But like I said, you've got the Olympics, you've got The Ryder Cup, and you throw a couple of extra ones in there when guys ask for favours and that's kind of where you get to. Again I'm in the fortunate position now, I'm able to kind of pick and choose a good schedule and now I think going forward next year is a really important year to kind of do that and to really stick by it and not add too many in.

You know, we're in a position where we won the Masters and then people obviously want you to play their golf tournaments and like I said, I only added one in for obviously Marco because he's been a good friend and he's been good to me over the years.

The back end of the season is always busy. If you play good golf, the back end of the year is the busiest time, and it's something you've got to look at. I wouldn't change being sat here in second place for anything else. So you know, if it means that you play a couple extra to be sat here in this position, then you know, that's the way it's going to be.

Q. Just talking about the World Cup, was it the fact that you pulled out on the Friday night and then played the weekend, are those two things linked; that it was a nice relief, in a way, that you didn't have another tournament? And have you had any stick from Mr. Westwood, seeing as by you pulling out, he now is no longer playing?
DANNY WILLETT: Yeah, it's a strange one actually. I don't know how it kind of works out in that kind of way. Obviously when the guys have booked their flights and done their things, I think it's potentially not quite right just because one guy pulls out that it means the other guy has to kind of withdraw without having a say in it. I don't think that's right.

You know, I think you then just go down the list and see which guy potentially then wants to play. With such short notice, I don't see why they have kind of completely switched it around and made it two brand new guys.

Is that a relief? No, not really. It's one of them where I would have loved to have played. I would have loved to have played, knowing it wasn't going to put -- or hinder, should I say, the beginning of next year, and whatever else. Because I've had it before where you try and stretch yourself a little bit too much, and you think it's an extra week, but it kind of takes four or five weeks to fully recover from it. It was a lot of travel, and we've racked up a lot of air miles the last few months and we've played a lot of golf.

So it was a decision made, you know, purely within my best interests for myself going forward. And unfortunately the backlash is the Westy situation I don't think was -- I just think it was a bit unfair for that tournament to kind of go about it the way they did.

I spoke to Westy and I apologised. Again, it's a tough one. But you know, Westy has been pretty good about it and stuff like that, so yeah, it was a shame, really, how it ended because we were both looking forward to going down there and pairing up, so yeah, it is a shame.

Q. Are you expecting a bill from him for the airline flight?
DANNY WILLETT: You never know. (Laughter) we have a good week this week, I'll be able to buy him a bottle of wine for Christmas.

Q. Given the year you've had as you described, topsy-turvy, what would it mean to you to be sat here Sunday night as The Race to Dubai Champion?
DANNY WILLETT: (Chuckling) Yeah, it would be nice. It's a tough one, I mean, we've had an amazing year, if you look at it as a whole. I don't think you can expect to ever go through a full year and not have any downs in there. It's just been a shame that the lows in the year I guess have come when they have.

Yeah, the last two ones, I didn't really go as I'd have planned, but I guess like you say, if you're sat here Sunday night and you've had a great week and things have gone your way; not that I'll not be able to reflect on it as a fantastic year anyway, but you'll be able to reflect on it as a slightly better year I guess.

At the end of the day, I mean, I'd love to finish first on The Race to Dubai at least once in my life. If I were to finish second for the rest of my life, it's not that you're playing bad golf, you've had a massively consistent year. But unfortunately we are coming up against Rory, Stenson, Sergio, all the guys, Alex, who are playing great golf, and to be able to finish No. 1 from how good the fields are that we play against these days, you know, I think it's a very difficult task.

You look at the last few years who the champions are, and you've got world No. 1s, you've got fantastic golfers. To be able to do that over the course of a year and to finish above them is amazing. So it's very difficult to finish No. 1, it is, over the course of a year.

So like I said, I'm fortunate to be sat in a position where I've actually got the chance to do that. I'm not asking for anything too ridiculous. I'm not trying to finish dead last and me to win and this, that and the other. If I can have a really good week and things can go my way, and like I say, you can win a golf tournament, then Saturday, Sunday night, will be very good talking to you.

MICHAEL GIBBONS: Thank you very much as always. Good luck this week.

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