Danny Willett lines up a put at the previews of the 2018 Tshwane Open at Pretoria Country Club on February 28 2018. Picture: GALLO IMAGES
Danny Willett lines up a put at the previews of the 2018 Tshwane Open at Pretoria Country Club on February 28 2018. Picture: GALLO IMAGES

The former Masters champion, Danny Willett, is hoping his knowledge of local golf courses puts him in good stead when the Tshwane Open starts at the Pretoria Country Club on Thursday.

"I know most of the golf courses in SA pretty well‚" said the Englishman as he wrapped up his preparations. "At Pretoria Country Club you have got to keep the ball in play because it’s very tight and tree-lined.

"The greens are also small‚ which is real old school. It’s a beautiful golf course and this is kind of what I was used to growing up back home."

Willett‚ who has dropped to 210th on the official rankings‚ is using the tournament to revive a career disrupted by a shoulder injury last season.

"The game is better‚ my practice is going really well and it’s just that I have to play more tournament golf," he said.

"That is what you miss when you are out with injury. It’s now just about putting it in play on the golf course and getting used to a few shots that you don’t quite feel comfortable with."

This is the first time Willett will return to the Tshwane Open since 2014 when he retired hurt. SA’s Dean Burmester is the reigning champion after winning his first European Tour by three strokes in 2017 but he is not returning to defend his title.

Charl Schwartzel won the 2016 edition of this tournament that has a history of treating Masters winners fairly well. In 2017, 2008 Masters winner Trevor Immelman arrived still working through a lengthy slump in form and not only made the cut but also scored a hole-in-one on the par-three fifth hole in the third round.

In 2013‚ two-time Masters champion José Maria Olazabal turned back the clock and finished 76th.

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