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DP WORLD TOUR CHAMPIONSHIP, DUBAI

November 18, 2018

Danny Willett

Dubai, United Arab Emirates

MICHAEL GIBBONS: Danny, I think everyone will join me in congratulating you in winning the DP World Tour Championship.

Just talk us through an incredible performance. How long was it? 953 days, was it, since you won the Masters?

DANNY WILLETT: Yes, a long, long time.

MICHAEL GIBBONS: So much has happened, but let's start with today what a fantastic performance to win this tournament.

DANNY WILLETT: Yeah, we got off to a flying start and everything seemed rosey in the camp. Then obviously there was a blip there down 10 and 12. Yeah, more proudly of how I handled that and how I handled myself emotionally everything and else.

And I kind of finished out those last five holes, six holes, having not been in that position for, as you say, a long time. You never know if you're going to be back in the position, and it's nice that I got back in there and I handled it the way in which I did.

MICHAEL GIBBONS: I'm sure it validates everything you've been doing.

DANNY WILLETT: Yeah, it does. I mean, it's a result. Regardless of what would have happened today, I'm in a much better place than where I was, and I knew that things were going the right way and I was doing all the work possible to give myself chances to do this.

Yeah, winning's a rarity on Tour, really. I'm pleased to have won the tournaments that I've won over the last few years. I've won some pretty big ones, and obviously Augusta is always going to be special.

But this, coming back after everything that's happened, this year, really, is going to go down in the history books for myself as one of the most pleasing.

Q. You had some highs and lows in your life, these recent years. Can you say what was the hardest one?
DANNY WILLETT: Yeah, probably the beginning of -- back end of '16, beginning of '17, we picked up a couple of bad injuries, and we were right in prime position to win The Race to Dubai, and the golf game wasn't in a good place and I didn't really want to play golf. Even though it was great tournaments to be able to compete in and win and there was some great things going on in the golfing world, but I wasn't in a position to where I was enjoying what I was doing, and I was in pain.

You know, kind of that beginning of '17 was a really tough time and then joining the US PGA Tour in '17, and things have been a lot better since.

Q. Since starting to work with Sean, can you pinpoint a time when you thought: Right, I'm on the right track, this is starting to work?
DANNY WILLETT: Yeah, you know, pretty quick I knew the things were going to be good pretty quickly body-wise. The moves felt horrendous and the ball flight was horrendous, but I wasn't in pain.

So you know, in my head that's what we set out to do. We set out to be pain-free and we would then put the golfing after that. Me and Foles sat down and talked a lot about being around for the next 20, 25 years, and moving in a way that was going to allow me to do that.

Regardless of the golf shots we were hitting on the golf course, as bad as they are, as long as the movement wasn't hurting, we could always curtail them swings and the ball flight and the moves and get it back in play. You can't keep doing it if it's hurting, making a lot of compensation.

Pretty quickly me and Foles, I knew the stuff was going to be good. The last kind of six, seven, eight months, I've really taken big strides in what we've been doing because I've been pain-free and been able to work harder.

Q. I know 953 days is a long time but over those last five holes, do you find yourself, your mind, wandering back to memories of Augusta?
DANNY WILLETT: Yeah, you do. It's one thing that you can't teach is how you cope under pressure down the stretch. You can't teach that. That just comes naturally to some people.

Fortunately I feel like we are relatively good in certain situations when I'm competent in what I'm doing. When you're not competent and you're not playing well, it's a tricky one to say, yeah, I'm going to handle it well, because you're not playing well enough to be in that situation.

Yeah, you draw back. You draw on a lot of things. You look and you kind of really think of shots I hit around Augusta, and how you felt there, hands were shaking, how your nerves were, holing a few of them little slippery 6-footers, and we had a few of them today.

You do draw on it, but I haven't been able to draw it, because like I said, I haven't been in a proper position to be able to do so.

Q. You said yesterday that there was a time when you despised golf. When you were at your lowest, did you doubt when you should be playing? Never mind being in this position where you are now.
DANNY WILLETT: Obviously I'd be able to play. Just not sure how good and how pain-free.

Yeah, it was a tough old time. You know, that's why I'm a very lucky man. I've got a fantastic family at home and obviously close family with my brothers and my mum and dad and stuff.

And then some fantastic friends that never really spoke about bad situations, bad times. You know, they just kind of took it all on the chin that things will get better, and that's kind of the way everyone has kind of been around me. A lot of positive people around, even when I was really not.

To have Nic and the kids with me there all the time; you think about how fortunate you are, two healthy boys and a wonderful marriage, and golf is golf. And like I said, my main aim was to be fit and healthy at the end of this year than I was at the beginning; and if the golf is good because of that, fantastic. And if it's not, we'll keep work at it.

Q. I'm sure you've said this before, but could you just remind us: What caused the back injury, and can we describe it just as a back injury or was it anything more?
DANNY WILLETT: It's a terrible game for your body. We all know that. You're trying to hit a golf ball 120 miles an hour with a driver that's 44 inches long, and it's not a great game for your body to cope with. It's not really meant to do it.

So you know, we were just making a move that kept jarring my back, and that's kind of all there was to it.

So we had to break that bad pattern that I had instilled over a certain amount of months, and kind of shook it back and go back to a different movement.

Q. It was definitely a golf injury; It wasn't an injury that golf aggravated?
DANNY WILLETT: No, it was -- yeah, I could work out in the gym all the time, but it was only when swinging that it hurt.

Q. Can you go through the first two shots on the 18th hole, what were you feeling, and what did you see when you went over there near the creek?
DANNY WILLETT: Yeah, it was nice there. (Laughter) Obviously we hit 3-wood to hit it right on the trap because it's a wider area for us to hit it, knowing that we could make 6 up the last and be okay.

Actually, haven't been in that situation, but it was actually not a nice situation to be in. Knowing you can make bogey almost you maybe did wander a bit in your mind and you're taking your foot off the pedal a little bit.

Yeah, we leaked it a little bit and the breeze got hold of it. Fortunately, we stayed dry. Second shot came out great from what could have been not so good.

But again, we hit it, and you know, if you're up there, you go in the water, you drop it back and you do the same as we did and you still win by one. Yeah, it was a nice to see it sitting there.

Q. Can you tell us how special a place Dubai is now for you, now that you've won not only here, as well as just down the road, as well.
DANNY WILLETT: Yeah, says a lot about where I've come from in working terms. This golf course plays into a big hitter's hands, and the work I've been doing with Sean and Kev helps to put distance on. That's certainly helped this week.

Two different golf courses, here and the Majelis. It's a beautiful place to come. Me and my family have enjoyed this week, and hopefully we're going to come back many, many more times in years to come.

Q. Can you look ahead to the future, and can you now get back into majors' contention next year?
DANNY WILLETT: I have no idea. I'm going to have eight weeks off starting tomorrow. I'm going to enjoy myself, enjoy time with the family. I've done a lot of travelling this last two months. Trying to play a little bit of the start of the PGA fall season over to this Final Series; we've done a hell of a lot of travelling around the world.

It's going to be nice to get back home and lock the door and do nothing and look forward and look at where we want to play and what we want to play in. And if we keep doing the work that we've been doing at home and keep putting the hours in, hopefully we can come back in January and pick up where we left off from.

Again, we're fortunate that we're in all the majors for the next few years, so you can plan around them. Yeah, things keep going the way they are, I'm going to look forward to getting back to Augusta in April actually with a golf game that can get around the golf course.

MICHAEL GIBBONS: Thank you and congratulations again, Danny.

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