Then he looked back and took one more mental picture.
"There's no doubt that I've exceeded my expectations, I didn't know what to expect really, I just tried to keep card first year, then I was in the top 50 and before I knew it I'd won the British Masters", he says.
One of the joys of The Masters is the familiarity of the golf track. But as this exchange from Willett's conference call with reporters last month demonstrates, it's still a touchy subject.
The 29-year-old found the green with his fourth shot and two-putted for a six, making him the first defending champion to start with a double bogey since hole-by-hole records began being collected in 1983. "He was up and moving around and definitely going in the right direction". The crowd following him, especially on the front nine, was not large, much to the disdain of 61-year-old patron Bill Widmayer of Atlanta. PHOTO: Rob Carr/Getty Images. After struggling early in his career - and collapsing in the final round in 2011 - McIlroy has finished in the top 10 three years in a row.
Favourite Dustin Johnson is part of an all-American trio also comprising two-time Masters victor Bubba Watson and Jimmy Walker, while Olympic champion Justin Rose is set to play alongside world No3 Jason Day and Brandt Snedeker in another high-profile group.
Masters 2017: Charley Hoffman leads after first round; Dustin Johnson withdraws
Johnson was still trying to digest the last 24 hours, as shocking as any for a No. 1 player going into a major. Then again, he pointed to a poor British Open record, adding, "I've also played disgusting in the wind".
The pressure to perform to one's best is there for all, but when your best is Masters champion, that pressure can be punishingly burdensome. The ball suddenly rolled back down a hill on the fringe 32 feet away, but he still got down in two. Actually, let me take that back: Yes, the shot was very bad, but it's kind of understandable. He looked back at his yardage books and said Tuesday that additional rounds illuminate certain areas on the course that must be avoided. "I needed to make sure that my mum was okay and once I knew the surgery went well, I was okay with flying down here". Unlike the American, Willett showed no glimpses of the decline to come that week at Augusta, and his upward curve and tremendous consistency prior to his historic win offered no clues that he could be capable of the erratic golf he has since produced. He felt guilty and selfish about playing golf when his mum was about to undergo major surgery two days later.
"It is tricky", Willett said.
"He will have analysed and processed what happened, learn from the experience and be all the better for it next time he is faced with a similar situation", said Bann, before adding "I think".
"Unfortunately, in my mind, I'm not like that; I can't think like that".
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