Photo, story courtesy JaxStateGamecocks.com
After Danny Willett’s triumph on Sunday in The Masters, James Hobbs remembered a question he’d heard Willett answer several times during his playing days at Jacksonville State.
“There was always an argument in the van between Danny and my American players about what the biggest major was,” JSU’s golf coach told the school’s website. “Danny always said The (British) Open was the biggest and my American players argued that it was The Masters.
“I can’t wait to ask him that question again, because I think he may have a different answer.”
That’s because Willett rallied to beat defending champion Jordan Spieth to become the second Englishman and first former JSU player to win The Masters, golf’s first major tournament this season.
At JSU, the native of Sheffield, England, was the Ohio Valley Conference’s Freshman of the Year in 2006 and rallied to win the OVC Championship in 2007, making first-team all-conference in both seasons.
As a freshman, Willett boasted a national rating of 21, the lowest by a JSU player in school history. He put together a 71.83 scoring average, second-best in school history, that was bolstered by 23 rounds of par or better. During his career with the Gamecocks, he won three times and his scoring average was a school-record 71.96. JSU counted all 72 rounds he played, making him the only Gamecock to have every round counted in multiple seasons.
“There was just something special about him,” Hobbs said. “Now he has a green jacket and, to me, it has a little red lining inside of it.”
Willett has won five times as a pro, the previous four coming on the European Tour. The 28-year-old, who welcomed his first son last week entered The Masters holding the No. 12 spot in the World Golf Rankings. He will surely move up after Sunday.
“It’s hard to put into words,” Hobbs said. “You think about all these years and all of the great players I’ve been able to recruit and coach. To win a major championship is just a dream for those kids.
“This is a proud moment for JSU, for our men’s golf team and for our program. This puts a stamp on our program. We have a Masters champion that played at JSU.”
Here’s how social media captured Willett’s triumph: