For English golf fans, Danny Willett’s improbable Masters triumph was a long-time coming. However, the case can be made that English golf is currently enjoying a heyday to rival or even surpass that of Sir Nick Faldo’s cross-decade Majors spree.
Faldo, who last won a Green Jacket in 1996, may have had 18-time European Tour winner Mark James for company back in the 80s and 90s, but the three-time Masters, and triple Claret Jug claimant, ploughed a lone English furrow in terms of Majors wins during an illustrious career.
Willett follows Justin Rose’s recent US Open success
Fast forward 20 years from his last triumph, and although his breakthrough victory will forever be remembered in the context of Jordan Spieth’s jaw-dropping implosion, Willett’s bogey-free final round alone more than warranted his Green Jacket.
Willett’s potential to pull off a landmark win was well known too after his sixth-place finish at last year’s Open Championship and five European Tour triumphs to date.
Following on from Justin Rose’s 2013 US Open success, the Yorkshireman’s achievement highlights a zenith in English golf that could well transpire into a Anglo-dominated 2016 Ryder Cup side.
Established Ryder Cup trio
Lee Westwood, the eventual champion’s Augusta playing partner and perennial near-miss merchant at Majors, has long been a stalwart of the European team and this latest performance will go a long way to cementing his place.
Rose and Poulter have also become synonymous with recent European sucesses, with all three aiding another glorious tilt for the team in blue at Gleneagles in 2014.
Although Poulter faded after yet another promising start to a Masters tournament in 2016, trading T4 after 18 holes for 49th after 72, his Ryder Cup record is exemplary and it would be somewhat of a shock for captain Darren Clarke to shun him on American soil in September.
Rose was the star performer at Gleneagles, so it can pretty much be taken as read that the trio will be seen again at Hazeltine National, with Willett most probably in tow.
A fitting Ryder Cup wager
It’s even plausible that the St George’s flag will be represented further. Ladbrokes make it 1/1 that England will make up over 5.5 of the final 12-man contingent, while 8/11 says it will be below that mark.
Paul Casey’s renaissance keeps on building after another top-10 at a Major when fourth at the Masters, while a return to his best nick for former world number one and four-time Ryder Cup winner Luke Donald cannot be discounted.
The Fitzpatrick-led Vanguard
Meanwhile, alongside Willett, there is an up-and-coming vanguard of compatriots making waves which could yet earn Ryder Cup recognition.
Tommy Fleetwood and Chris Wood are becoming serious contenders on the European Tour, and perhaps most impressive of all is Matthew Fitzpatrick.
Aged just 21, and already a British Masters winner, the Sheffield native served notice of his huge potential by matching Willett’s closing-round 67 at Augusta to give England five representatives in the Masters top 10.
Such exploits may end up making Fitzpatrick a fascinating wild card pick.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.