Danny Willett accepts PGA Tour membership after Masters victory
Danny Willett’s identity as a European Tour-centric player is no more. The Masters champion has officially accepted PGA Tour membership, the Tour announced Monday.
The win at Augusta last week earned Willett an opportunity to join the Tour, but he had to accept in order to activate the membership. Until the announcement came Monday, the move wasn’t a foregone conclusion. Willett, an Englishman, had played full seasons on the European Tour year after year all the way back to 2009, and he’s a five-time winner on the circuit.
But his status has risen in recent years. Four of those five wins have come since December 2014, and Willett first came to the spotlight in the majors after being within one of the 36-hole lead at last year’s British Open (he would finish T-6 at St. Andrews). And then of course, came the major championship win at the Masters.
The major title brought too many PGA Tour perks to pass up. For accepting membership, the 28-year-old receives a five-year Tour exemption that runs through the 2020-21 season. He also retroactively earned 600 FedEx Cup points for his win at Augusta, as well as 44 for his T-22 finish at the Valspar Championship. The points don’t retroactively count toward his other three PGA Tour starts (all World Golf Championships) in 2015-16, which means Willett sits 27th in the FedEx Cup standings with 644 points.
That total already well surpasses the projected range for No. 125 in the standings after the Wyndham Championship (the last tournament of the regular season). Willett, then, will be eligible for the FedEx Cup playoffs once the Wyndham passes by and he’s in the top 125.
Willett never had more than three PGA Tour starts in a season before a late climb in 2014 and continued soar in 2015 netted him spots in all four majors last year for the first time, as well as three WGCs. In 10 Tour appearances in 2014-15, Willett posted two top-10s, including a third. He has five top 10s, including his Masters win, in 23 career PGA Tour starts.
Willett is currently No. 9 in the Official World Golf Ranking. He was competing in just his second Masters (and 11th career major) when he captured the green jacket last Sunday.
– Kevin Casey