Danny Willett On Agonising Fortinet Championship Final Hole Three-Putt

The Englishman has reflected on his heartbreaking defeat to Max Homa in the opening event of the PGA Tour season

Danny Willett speaks in a press conference during a practice round prior to the 2022 Alfred Dunhill Links Championship
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Danny Willett tees it up in the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship at St Andrews this week as he defends the title he won last year.

Before he does that, though, he had time to reflect on one that got away – his agonising capitulation to Max Homa in the PGA Tour’s Fortinet Championship earlier in the month. Willett appeared to have the title all but sewn up on the final hole. Even after Homa chipped in, it was Willett’s for the taking. However, he missed a three-foot birdie putt to win outright, then an equally short putt for par, which would have forced a playoff but instead handed Homa victory.

Willett was praised for his dignified manner in defeat and admitted that mindset had helped. He said: “Yeah, I don’t know how you else would handle it. Inside, you’re screaming at yourself. You can’t look at that week in a bad way. You still finished second. You still picked up a hell of a lot of points. Yeah, would you have liked to have rewound time for two minutes? Yeah. But we can’t do that. We’ve got to kind of take from it and when we are in that position, won’t happen. Like I say, take the positives from it.

Willett also pointed to a time when he took advantage to win against the odds - the 2016 Dubai Desert Classic when he edged out Andy Sullivan and Rafa Cabrera Bello. He said: “Every win that I’ve had, you always think there’s going to be a massive climax finish to an event. Dubai, I holed the putt to win back in 2016, and most of the time, people are tapping in from six inches to win. You know, it’s not - how that happened obviously was a little bit of a shock to the system at the time."

While Willett was the orchestrator of his downfall at Silverado, he admitted that of all the players who could have put himself in contention before his fateful three-putt, it was Homa. He said: "But yeah, I mean Max obviously - he’s 15th in the world. He’s a great player and he’s had a great year last year, coming in there defending champion and favourite. You know, not that it’s - not that it always happens, but if anyone was going to probably do it, it would have probably been him.”

While missing out to Homa in such a manner obviously came as a blow to Willett, there is arguably more at stake in this week’s tournament given it’s the third qualifying event for next year’s Ryder Cup. Willett admits that’s something he still harbours ambitions of being involved in. He said: “Obviously I want to go back there to Rome and help the team, and this is obviously another big week in that journey.”

Last year, Willett celebrated his birthday with a two-shot win. While his big day falls the day after the conclusion of this year’s tournament, if he follows up that display with a successful defence of his title, it will surely be the perfect early birthday present – and go a long way towards banishing the demons of that disastrous final hole at Silverado two weeks earlier.

Mike Hall

Mike has over 25 years of experience in journalism, including writing on a range of sports throughout that time, such as golf, football and cricket. Now a freelance staff writer for Golf Monthly, he is dedicated to covering the game's most newsworthy stories. 

He has written hundreds of articles on the game, from features offering insights into how members of the public can play some of the world's most revered courses, to breaking news stories affecting everything from the PGA Tour and LIV Golf to developmental Tours and the amateur game. 

Mike grew up in East Yorkshire and began his career in journalism in 1997. He then moved to London in 2003 as his career flourished, and nowadays resides in New Brunswick, Canada, where he and his wife raise their young family less than a mile from his local course. 

Kevin Cook’s acclaimed 2007 biography, Tommy’s Honour, about golf’s founding father and son, remains one of his all-time favourite sports books.