Danny Willett hailed his home BMW PGA triumph as a “fairytale” after returning from the “dark places” in his career.
The 2016 Masters champion fell to world No.462 after missing the cut at Wentworth last year as he struggled with his form and fitness.
But after his comeback win in Dubai last year, the Yorkshireman showed he is now back to his old best with a nerveless three-shot win over world No.6 Jon Rahm.
The 31-year-old – now back up to world No.31 – was greeted by his wife Nicole and his two young boys in emotional scenes on the 18th green.
“Winning on British soil for the first time after I’ve been to so many dark places in the past few years is one of those fairytale stories you never expect to come true,” said Willett.
“There has been a lot of turmoil to go through since the Masters, and no-one apart from my wife Nicole and the members of my team have seen how much hard work went into turning things round. I was driven on by an undying want to get back there I was willing to change whatever had to be changed.
“Even on the bad days I realised playing golf for a living is a really beautiful thing to do. It’s all I ever wanted, so I’m incredibly proud to be in this position again. I’m incredibly proud of what I’ve been able to achieve in the last 12 months.”
Willett, who had a nightmare Ryder Cup debut in Hazeltine after his brother wrote an article mocking Americans, goes straight to the top of the European rankings for 2020. “I might be the guy that plays every Ryder Cup away from home, which will be great fun for me,” he smiled.
Willett and Rahm started the day level on -15 under par but the Englishman opened up a two-shot lead with two early birdies
But a wild drive at 11 saw him hit a tree with his second and then a root with his club out of the heather before nailing a miraculous 40-foot bogey putt to only drop one shot – and then down a couple of paracetamols for the pain in his wrist. “11 was a real big point in the golf tournament,” said Willett, who shot a closing 67 to finish 20-under par.
Rahm saw his challenge end when he found water going for the 18th green in two. The Spanish runner-up said: “I’m not going to lie. It hurts. It stings. But nothing a good dinner and a bottle of wine can’t fix.”
Rory McIlroy finished tied ninth – along with Andrew “Beef” Johnston – after a closing 67.