Flag day for English golfers at Masters
Augusta (United States) (AFP)
English golfers enjoyed their finest-ever day at the Masters with Danny Willett winning and five Englishmen finishing in the top 10.
Willett, who overturned a five-shot deficit on defending champion Jordan Spieth on the back nine to win his first major title, is just the second English golfer to win the Masters after Nick Faldo, who did it three times.
Since the last of Faldo's Masters victories 20 years ago, only one English golfer has won a major - Justin Rose at the 2013 US Open.
Lee Westwood tied for second in another near miss at a major, Paul Casey tied for fourth to show that he is back to his best after a long run of injuries, young gun Matthew Fitzpatrick tied for seventh and Rose was in a tie for 10th.
With Fitzpatrick only 21 and winner Willett 28, there was talk of the new faces taking over, but 38-year-old Casey had a different slant on that.
"I hope we're not changing the guard just yet. Give us another five years or so," he said.
"But yeah, we've done pretty well right now. When we came through we played in the Tiger era, which was fantastic. It also limited the opportunities you had.
"They don't have that now. And I think Jordan (Spieth) is not making it wide open, but there are more opportunities out there. So I don't think we need to say anything."
Fitzpatrick, who many see as a potential major winner following his outstanding win in the BMW PGA Championship last year, benefitted particularly from his first Masters outing since turning pro.
He closed with a 67, which was equal best score of the day, and ensured that he will be back at Augusta National next year, where he hopes to do even better.
"I think that certainly today I played well enough to shoot 67. And I'm not trying to prove a point, but it's maybe just helps me put my mind at rest if I was worried if I belong," he said.
The next big target for the English pack will be the British Open at Troon, Scotland, in July with the last English winner of that being Faldo in 1990.
And after that, there will be the return of golf to the Olympics in Rio, where on current world rankings Britain will be represented by Willett and Rose.
English golfers are also set to play a key role on the European team that defends the Ryder Cup against the United States in late September.
© 2016 AFP