Willett scenting Alfred Dunhill Links Championship birthday victory

By Sports Desk October 02, 2021

Danny Willett gave himself a golden opportunity to celebrate his birthday by winning the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship after taking three-shot lead on Saturday.

The 2016 Masters champion could toast turning 34 on Sunday by claiming his first title since his BMW PGA Championship triumph in September 2019.

Willett's impressive six-under bogey-free third round of 66 on the Old Course at St. Andrew's moved him to 14 under, three shots clear of Tyrrell Hatton, Richard Bland, Shane Lowry and John Murphy.

Englishman Willett overcame difficult weather conditions to move into a strong position.

"Early on, with a decent bit of wind, downwind, you always feel like you should take so many chances," said Willett.

"You need to drive it close, and as soon as you get on the 12th tee, you know you've got pretty tough conditions coming straight into the wind on the last six holes. I really had a go on the last six and gained a lot of shots coming in doing that.

"It's nice that the fans are back this week, the format is back, we missed it last year. I think it's great to have everyone here. We're getting cheered on, so it's great to be back on British soil. Another 18 holes to go, and we'll see how we do."

Three bogeys in a row on the back nine for Hatton after a promising start of four birdies from his opening five holes saw the 29-year-old drop into joint-second at 11 under as he signed for a one-under 72.

"Got off to a very nice start, and then just hit a couple of loose shots, just lost all momentum, to be honest," Hatton said. "I think from the eighth hole, just never really got anything going our way.

"I think there were only a couple of times where I had a realistic birdie chance, and I hit a good putt, and it bobbled off line or whatever."

Bland carded a sublime eight-under 64, while Irish duo Lowry and Murphy are firmly in the mix after going round in 67.

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