Danny Willett has had so many ailments and injuries this season, reports from his 2021 campaign should appear in The Lancet medical journal instead of the sports pages.

At a bright and breezy Old Course yesterday, though, the canny Yorkshireman was in fine fettle as he marched to victory in the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship. On his 34th birthday, an eighth European Tour win and a cheque for almost £580,000 were a couple of nice additions to a slab of celebratory cake.

During a year in which he has struggled with Covid-19, his wisdom teeth, appendicitis and a hernia, Willett has not had his physical toils and troubles to seek. Professionally it’s not been a vintage few months with just one top-10 but he stood firm on another demanding, unforgiving day in the home of golf and closed with a sturdy four-under 68 for an 18-under 270. That left him two clear of Joakim Lagergren and Tyrrell Hatton with Shane Lowry sharing fourth on 273.

It’s been a topsy-turvy few years for Willett. After winning The Masters in 2016, he endured a period of struggle which saw him plunge so low on the world rankings, his golf bag just about had deep sea coral on it.

From ninth in the world, he slithered to 462nd but he bounced back with mighty wins in the DP World Tour Championship in 2018 and the BMW PGA Championship a year later. This year, Willett had found himself back down in 170th on the global order but this latest triumph was another big statement. When he wins, he tends to do it in the big ones.

“I do have a canny way of a doing a little rollercoaster,” he said. “It's been a very unfortunate last eight months and every time the game feels like it's been in a nice place, I’ve had a couple of issues with health. I’ve never really been able to get the momentum going

“The consistency level has eluded me since 2016, but if someone had said I’d win three big tournaments since The Masters I would have taken it.”

Willett led by three shots overnight and he staved off the advances of the chasing pack with a robust display of front-running golf.

He holed a long birdie putt from off the green on the 10th to maintain a two-shot advantage before making an excellent up-and-down from distance for a crucial par on the 11th to keep the momentum going.

Seasoned sages of the links will tell you that nothing is ever certain on the Old Course until a player has negotiated the treacherous 17th. 

Arnold Palmer once suggested that the best way to play it was “in an ambulance.” There was no accident or emergency for Willett. A wonderfully executed 6-iron found the safety of the green and he two-putted for his par. “It was a 6-iron that came out as good as you could ever hope for,” he added. “The 17th was a really big hole.”

With the Road Hole out of the way, Willett could’ve been carried up the 18th on the shoulders of the spectators as he enjoyed a procession to a coronation.

“This a is a very special win and hopefully we can kick on a bit for the last couple of months of the season,” said Willett, who was jetting off to Las Vegas this morning for a PGA Tour event. There’s no rest for the winners.

On the home front, meanwhile, Ewen Ferguson was left cursing a late lapse as he four-putted the 18th for a bogey which left him in a tie for 17th on nine-under.

Ferguson, who will step up to the European Tour next season, had been looking at a birdie on the last having driven just short of the green. His first putt went about 12-feet past, his second came up a couple of feet short and his next one birled out the cup. The difference between a birdie and bogey there was some £15,000. “It was one lapse and you have to focus right to the end,” said Ferguson, who still picked up a cheque for around £42,000 and took plenty of positives from an encouraging week.

While Ferguson made a hash of the Old Course’s 18th, Richie Ramsay holed his raking putt from the Valley of Sin for an eagle two in a 70 for his nine-under total. “I’ll remember that for a long time,” he said.

Birthday boy Willett will remember his day too.