The Masters: Sometimes Nice Guys Finish First

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The Sports Section

As much as many American fans were pulling for Jordan Spieth to continue his spectacular play at Augusta, one can’t help but admire the humble beginnings of this year’s Masters Champion, Danny Willet.

Willet’s quest for the green jacket started some four thousand miles away from the pristine greens of Augusta National. Sixteen years ago, at the age of 12, Willet and some friends had an idea to get kids off the street and give them something constructive to do. The idea was to start an inner-city golf program that took place next to a housing development in the northern England town of Sheffield. The pre-teen Willet had just been introduced to golf by his father on a family trip to Wales.

His first real instruction came from Peter Ball, Willet’s first coach. Ball said he put in many hours, even after dark chipping and putting. Willet put years into improving his craft and quit college after only a month and headed to Jacksonville State University, where he dedicated everything to his golf game. Willet’s persistence to the sport paid off big last week as he returned to Britain having won the Masters for his first major championship title.

Willet is very close to his entire family. His wife just had a baby right before the Masters. Normally Masters winners from out of the country would stay and soak up the local fanfare, especially being a local college student, but he was anxious to get home to see his son, Zachariah. Willet’s brother, Paul, has become somewhat of a Twitter sensation, posting such comments as, “I will be able to say ‘I’ve shared a bath with a Masters winner’-brilliant.”

While Spieth did win the silver, it probably wasn’t the greatest feeling to have to help Willet on with his green jacket. Had it not been for missing the middle of the green with his 9-iron on the par-3 12th hole, Spieth would have been in great position to win the jacket for the second year in a row.

 

NASCAR: Kyle Busch Sweeps Again

Kyle Busch has to be feeling pretty confident lately when he takes off in a restart of a NASCAR race. He took the lead after the final restart Saturday night, completing his second NASCAR weekend sweep in a row. It was the first time a driver accomplished the feat since Harry Gant in 1991(Richmond and Dover).

After Busch won both the Xfinity race and the Sprint Cup race last week, he did it for the second week in a row. In addition to winning his 80th Xfinity race on Friday night, he also got his 45th Camping World Truck Series victory. That is four consecutive NASCAR Series wins in an eight-day span. To top the weekend off, he got his second Sprint Cup victory in the Duck Commander 500 at Texas Motor Speedway.

On lap 302, the first lap after the final restart, Busch went on the outside of turn #4 to skirt around Martin Truex Jr. for the lead. He led for the remaining 32 laps in his #18 JGR Toyota. This wasn’t one of those photo finishes fans have become accustomed to this season. Busch finished 4 seconds before Dale Earnhardt Jr. crossed the finish line. Joey Logano finished third behind Junior.

Jimmy Johnson, who had won five of the last seven Texas races finished behind Logano in fourth. Johnson will have to wait until November to win on the track that he has dominated in the past. If he can win in the fall in Texas, it would be his fifth year in a row. It may be early to talk about points, but with the victory Busch took over the season points lead, and is now six ahead of Johnson and seven ahead of Kevin Harvick. Harvick, the previous points leader, finished tenth at Texas. To say Harvick hasn’t fared well at Texas is an understatement. It’s one of only four tracks where he hasn’t won and is a dismal 0 for 27 there.

In fifth, it was Earnhardt and Johnson’s Hendrick Motorsports teammate, Chase Eliot. Although he had qualified fourth, Elliot had to start at the back of the field after his #24 Chevy needed a transmission change. The fourth Hendricks driver to finish in the top 10 was Kasey Kahne at eighth.

A couple of rain showers during the afternoon caused an hour and 50-minute delay to dry the track. The delay caused the first night race of the season to run into the early morning hours, ending a few minutes after midnight.

Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway in Bristol, TN is Sunday at 1:13pm

 

Mike Yost

 

NASCAR SPRINT CUP

  1. Kyle Busch (18) 259
  2. Jimmie Johnson (48) 253
  3. Kevin Harvick (4) 252
  4. Carl Edwards (19) 241
  5. Joey Logano (22) 234
  6. Dale Earnhardt Jr. (88) 211
  7. Kurt Busch (41) 208
  8. Denny Hamlin (11) 201
  9. Brad Keselowski (2) 201
  10. Austin Dillon (3) 198