Danny Willett looking forward to teeing up with Tiger Woods in Dubai
By Keith Jackson
Last Updated: 27/01/17 12:34pm
Danny Willett has welcomed the return of Tiger Woods and is relishing the chance to do battle with the former world No 1 in Dubai next week.
Woods is playing in his first full-field PGA Tour event since August 2015 at the Farmers Insurance Open this week, before he makes his eighth appearance in the Omega Dubai Desert Classic, where Willett is defending champion.
Willett is certain that all professional golfers will be happy to see Woods back on Tour as he begins a run of four tournaments in five weeks, and hopes the 14-time major winner can roll back the clock and play some of his best golf.
"It's massive, and something I think we've all been looking forward to, not just to see him back but hopefully to see him playing well," said Willett, who was speaking to Sky Sports News HQ from Rotherham, where he is promoting the "Wee Willetts" pre-junior golf incentive.
"I'm among a lot of players who grew up with Tiger being a role model and a hero within golf, and I think he changed the game. I believe every pro on Tour wants to see him back and playing well.
"He has been missed, and I'm obviously very excited that he's going to be playing in Dubai next week on the European Tour. I think the PGA Tour are thrilled that he's back, and it's really big for the European Tour to have him in Dubai as well."
Willett has struggled for form since his memorable victory at Augusta National last April, but is confident the changes he is making to his swing combined with improved fitness will help get him back on track this season.
The Ryder Cup player is altering his set-up and fitness regime to alleviate the back problems which have hampered his career, but he is remaining patient in his quest to regain top form.
"It's been a bit topsy-turvy over the last few months," added Willett, who missed the cut in his first outing of 2017 at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship last week.
"I had a good break over Christmas, and that probably showed last week in Abu Dhabi. But I'll be training and practising this week and then it's off to Dubai to defend my title. Hopefully I can ramp things up before I go to America and start my PGA Tour season at the Honda Classic.
"We're going to try and juggle both Tours this season, but we're not putting pressure on getting started too quickly. We're trying to do things with the swing as well as getting fitter and stronger so the back holds up all year long.
"But it's obviously very early days in what will hopefully be another very good season."