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Danny Willett keeping expectations in check as injury comeback resumes in Germany

Danny Willett keeping expectations in check as injury comeback resumes in Germany

After weeks of practice since making his injury comeback ahead of schedule at The Masters, Danny Willett is excited to see how his game adapts to different challenges ahead of a busy summer on the DP World Tour.

The Englishman defied expectations to return from reconstructive shoulder surgery six months earlier than expected at Augusta National, producing an impressive opening four-under-par 68 as he comfortably made the cut.

Willett, who memorably won the Masters in 2016, is now set for the first of a series of planned starts at this week’s European Open in Germany.

With trips to the Netherlands for the KLM Open, Italy for the Italian Open, and a return visit to Germany for the BMW International Open lined up over the coming weeks, the 36-year-old admits it has been a challenge to set out any goals.

“Those first couple rounds at Augusta were great but… you shouldn't have any expectations,” said the eight-time DP World Tour winner.

“The reason we are back now is to see where we're at, see how many weeks in a row we can play and just get a gauge as to where we're at with things. It's still a work in progress.

“We're still back three to five months earlier than we should be anyway.

“Expectations should be as low as physically possible.

“Just try and enjoy it, try and learn from each shot whether it be good or bad and try and knock off all the rust playing in front of people with a card in your hand.”

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Danny Willett is making his first appearance at Green Eagle Golf Courses this week

The European Open will be just Willett’s second start since his enforced break from the game, dating back to last year’s BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth.

Willett has been based at his home in Florida in recent weeks but has now brought his family back over to the UK in readiness for his appearances on the DP World Tour’s European Swing.

With conditions having been wet and windy over the practice days so far this week, Willett is expecting a stern test on his debut appearance at Green Eagle Golf Courses – the longest course on the DP World Tour.

"Practise and stuff has been good at home, but it's been very samey," he reflected.

"It's been 90°F every day in Orlando and you're playing with your friends and stuff.

"So, here, it's a little bit colder. The golf course is really long this week and pretty wet as well.

"We've had some pretty strong winds the last two days. So I've just been trying to acclimatise to different things.

"I think over these next two or three months, it's more about playing different golf courses all around Europe and trying to make sure that the game travels well like it used to."

While he may be ticking off another new course, Germany holds many fond memories for Willett with the country being the scene of his maiden DP World Tour title at the BMW International Open in 2012.

Back then his triumph came in Cologne, but this week in Hamburg he is expecting a "beast" of a challenge on a layout which is widely viewed as among the toughest on the DP World Tour by players.

With four par fives on the back nine, including one measuring 663 yards, Willett is hopeful he will be able to quickly adjust to a layout where the winning score has been in the single figures under par in each of its last three editions.

"I think visually the back nine was trickier than the front," he said. "I didn't realise the discrepancy in yardage from the front and back nines and then we started on the front nine today. Visually, [the shots were] a little bit easier to pick out."

"It's going to be a test, especially if they keep the tee boxes back and the wind stays as it is. It's not overly warm, the ball is not going very far and it's definitely going to be a help if someone hits it a long way."

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