2016 Masters champ Danny Willett showing signs of life at Italian Open

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2016 Masters champ Danny Willett showing signs of life at Italian Open

Euro Tour

2016 Masters champ Danny Willett showing signs of life at Italian Open

Welcome back Danny Willett. Or is it just a fleeting visit? 

The 2016 Masters champion showed signs of returning to the form that won him a green jacket by bursting into contention in the $7 million Italian Open. The 30-year-old returned a second round 67, 4-under, at Gardagolf Country Club to go with his opening 65. He sits on 10 under par, just one shot behind Germany’s Martin Kaymer, who took the halfway lead with an 8-under-par 63. 

Willett has been missing in action since winning the Masters. He’s slid down to 462nd on the Official World Golf Ranking from a high of ninth after his major win. He’s made just one cut on the European Tour this season, finishing T-29 in the bottom of the Euro food chain Tshwane Open. 

Last year, Willett dropped to 96th on the European money list after second place finishes the previous two seasons. He’s looked like the Willett of 2016 and 2015 in 36 holes in Italy. He hasn’t made a bogey in 36 holes.

“It’s been a while,” Willett said. “We played really well, got the ball in play a lot which you have to do around here.

“It’s almost a good and a bad thing, not being in the position for a while of going low. But then, at the same time, you’re really enjoying actually having the potential to go low and then to make some more birdies. 

“I hit a lot of good golf shots. It kind of puts things into perspective when you’ve not been playing so well, if you do hit a couple of bad ones, you take a bit of pressure off yourself.”

Willett is in fairly good company. He’s tied for second alongside Rafa Cabrera Bello, Graeme McDowell, Thomas Pieters and Francesco Molinari, winner of last week’s BMW PGA Championship. 

Whether Willett can keep his game together over the next 36 holes remains to be seen. However, just a decent finish would be a huge step on his bid to get back among Europe’s elite.

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