Magazine article The Spectator

Spectator Sport: Roger Alton

Magazine article The Spectator

Spectator Sport: Roger Alton

Article excerpt

Well here's a thing: we've just had the first English bloke to win the Masters. Sure, an Englishman has won it before, but not a proper English bloke with a tattoo and the easy patter you'd expect from the man who comes to fix your dishwasher. And there were five Englishmen in the top 14 at Augusta, not to mention a certain Northern Irishman. No one likes a jingoist, but as David Coleman might have said, it's really quite remarkable.

I absolutely love Danny Willett. He's the ordinary guy from Rotherham, the son of a vicar and a maths teacher, who has just won the biggest prize in golf. He's the kid from next door who has proved that with hard graft, luck and a loving family nothing is impossible. It's just a pity that the man he had to beat was Jordan Spieth, who comes in for shameful abuse online. If you took any notice of the comments on newspaper websites you'd think he was golfing evil. The very opposite is the case. He's not a Tiger or a Seve. He doesn't hit long and he doesn't shape shots outrageously. He's a grounded, God-fearing Christian from Texas. He's clean-cut, which is almost a crime in the trollosphere. At just 22, he is a real credit to himself, to his family and to sport. Spieth is a great player who had an off week. He still came second in the most demanding of the majors. Yes, he should have won and he knows that more than any of us. He handled himself with great class and dignity, just as Danny Willett did, but in more difficult circumstances. Perhaps that is why people over here are so damned rude about him.

After Spieth's Masters win last year we learned that his sister Ellie has autism-related neuro-logical difficulties. She needs constant care and both of his parents volunteer at the centre that supports her. Spieth has told how Ellie, seven years his junior, doesn't really know or care what he does beyond the fact that he plays a game and prefers to win. …

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