He’s not quite the champion of the world but this particular Danny must have felt on top of it at Wentworth last night.

With a canny, composed display that was as sturdy and as resolute as the steel they would churn out in his home city of Sheffield, Danny Willett eased to victory in the BMW PGA Championship.

A closing five-under 67, which was burnished by a flourish of birdies at 17 and 18, left him with a mighty 20-under total and three shots clear of Spain’s Jon Rahm.

When Willett missed the cut in last year’s event, the former Masters champion slithered to a low of 462nd on the world rankings. After this conquest, his seventh tour title and a first on UK soil, he is set to be back in the top 50.

During the well-documented woes of a crippling injury and a morale-sapping loss of form, the 31-year-old was facing the kind of daunting climb back to prominence that almost required crampons and a Sherpa.


This latest success – he won the DP World Tour Championship in Dubai at the end of 2018 – continued his rousing rise into the upper echelons again.

It’s onwards and upwards for the former world No 9. “I think I’ll be able to be a better version of what I’ve been,” he said. “When my golf was really bad and I didn’t really fancy playing it, to be able to then come down the stretch today and enjoy it is a beautiful thing.

“That’s what you want to play the game for. There were times when I didn’t enjoy any second of it.”

On a damp, muggy final day punctuated by heavy downpours, Willett and Rahm were level-pegging as they clattered away from the first tee. It was the Yorkshireman who delivered the early salvos with a putt of 25-feet for birdie on the second and a 12-footer for another gain on the third to open up a two shot lead.

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Still two shots to the good at the turn, that lead looked in serious trouble on the 11th, however, when he plunged his wild drive into some of Wentworth’s abundant foliage.

His recovery shot then smacked a tree and he gouged his third out of the heather into a bunker and was left nursing a sore wrist. A couple of painkillers helped and so did a raking putt of some 50-feet which limited the damage to a bogey five and kept him one stroke ahead.

That importance of that salvage operation on the 11th was highlighted on the long 12th when Rahm, who was just short of the green in two, made a hash of his pitch and ended up with a bogey six.

“The 11th was a really big point in the tournament,” Willett reflected. “Those moments might happen on a Thursday or a Friday, but for it to happen on the Sunday on the back nine was crucial. It gave me that little bit of breathing space.”

By the time he got to the 18th, Willett had the kind of comfy cushion you’d get in a Bedouin tent and when Rahm, desperately chasing a last-gasp eagle, found the water, Willett found the heart of the green and two-putted for birdie to gild the lily.

After an opening 76, meanwhile, Rory McIlroy covered the last three days in 15-under to plunder a top-10 finish. Happy with that? “I think my dad will be happier because he has a partner who’s playing pretty well,” said a smiling McIlroy, who will team up with his dad, Gerry, in this week’s Dunhill Links Championship.