Rudyard Kipling once said that if history were taught in the form of stories, it would never be forgotten. It doesn’t get more historic than becoming the first British man to slip on the Green Jacket since the turn of the millennium. But after this weekend, that’s not the only story people will remember about Danny Willett.
Before the first car drives down Magnolia Lane, every journalist worth his (or her) salt has planted the seeds of potential storylines about the men in the running for the Green Jacket.
I guess that’s why, as a golf writer I use the same logic when choosing who to back at the bookies. I like to think that the romance of seeing the man with the best narrative win me money writes me a cameo in his story – at least one I can tell.
My scientifically deficient selection process is, however, reeled in with a splash of realism, meaning past experience at Augusta does have its role to play. Otherwise I’d whack my mortgage on Tom Watson (wouldn’t THAT have been some tale to tell?).
It was this marriage between fairytale and form that helped me settle on four choices.
Jordan Spieth. Win it and he would seal back-to-back Green Jackets, the youngest to achieve such a feat. He’d be proving wrong the naysayers who wrote off last year’s double major win as a fluke, and branded the youngster a flash-in-the-pan.
Phil Mickelson. We all know Lefty loves Augusta, and that memorable second shot from the pine straw at the iconic 13th hole in 2010’s fourth round earned me a lot of money. At 45, he would be the oldest winner since Jack Nicklaus in 1986.
Hideki Matsuyama. A quiet man who prefers to let his clubs do the talking. The men’s game plays second fiddle to the women’s in Japan, so the first Japanese man to win a Green Jacket would be a game changer back home.
Then of course, there was Danny Willett. He was my first pick, and at 66-1, a rather attractive one too.
Willett’s Masters storyline was written way in advance, nine months to be exact. The due date for he and wife Nicole’s first born was 10th April 2016 – Masters Sunday.
Willett pledged not to play, should his wife be yet to give birth, like Andy Murray, placing his family above his sport.
Zachariah Willett was welcomed in to the world on March 30th – in plenty time for dad to stamp his ticket to Georgia.
The rest, as they say is history. And what a story Danny, Champion of the (golfing) World has to tell – as do his sponsors.
The marketing teams at Callaway, Audemars Piguet and Saujana Hotels and Resorts could not have been gift-wrapped a better storyline – complete with a big green bow.
Meanwhile, the principles of agile content marketing were firmly in play at the fingertips of Danny Willett’s older brother, PJ, who – likely without thinking – added a whole other dimension to ‘Brand Willett’.
Twitter users worldwide were tickled by big brother’s charm and wit throughout the closing holes at Augusta. The author and teacher fired tongue in cheek nostalgia about sharing baths with a Major champion, cheekily reminding him that he owed him a birthday present – and that he quite fancied a jacket, a green one to be exact.
As a result, PJ Willett went viral. His brotherly banter reverberating around the world on social media, Willett senior saw his opportunity and added another aspect to the family picture being painted around new dad Danny in the Green Jacket.
People forget facts, but they remember stories. Most people around the world didn’t know who Danny Willett was this time on Sunday morning. They do now.