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September 29, 2016

Danny Willett

Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA

JOHN DEVER: Good afternoon, everybody. Hope you enjoyed lunch, and welcome back to the 41st Ryder Cup. Pleased to be joined by Danny Willett.

Danny, thanks for your time. After a good week of lead-up and such, and suddenly we're 18 hours from the first ball being struck, how anxious are you and your teammates to just play some golf tomorrow morning.

DANNY WILLETT: Yeah, obviously there's a few things that have been said, but you know, we're here to do one job, we're here as a team. And yeah, I think we're all looking forward to kind of getting it underway.

We obviously went to a gala dinner last night with the American guys and I think they feel the same way. I just think we're 24 guys just wanting to play some golf.

Q. Could you give us an idea of how the conversation with your brother went last night, please?
DANNY WILLETT: It was similar to obviously the conversation I had in the middle of the day. We spoke to each other about what was said and how it got interpreted and the reactions from it. I was disappointed in what he wrote and obviously, you know, it put a bit of a downer on my first Ryder Cup for the last couple of days.

Luckily, you know, it's not been too bad with the fans. The fans have still been great. There's a few shouts out there but you can expect that. But yeah, the golf itself so far has been pretty good, and hopefully everyone can kind of draw a line under it, and like we said, we can just come out here and play some golf.

Q. When you heard about the article, was that one of the concerns, that what had been said might potentially make you a bit of a target for the fans out on the course?
DANNY WILLETT: Yeah, obviously coming to America, you're already a bit of a target. Obviously the European Team, the 12 guys. And yeah, it kind of centered the attention a bit more, obviously, upon myself; may be.

Like I said, what was said wasn't my writing and wasn't the team's writing or anything like that. You know, as I've said in previous things, I spoke to Davis yesterday, and he was happy to draw a line under it. And obviously, you know, it's nothing that I mean or that I've said. And I spoke to some of the American guys last night and they felt the same way.

So you know, in an ideal world, the fans would do the same thing, and we won't let it tarnish -- obviously it's my first Ryder Cup, but we won't let it tarnish the 41st Ryder Cup.

Q. Just what kind of a resource has Lee Westwood been for you in terms of such a veteran who has been here and can maybe help you kind of get through things early on here?
DANNY WILLETT: Yeah, me and Lee have been good pals now for a few years. I was fortunate enough to make the team a long, long time ago, and to be able to pick his and Clarkey's brain about a few things on what to expect.

You know, I think this is his 10th Ryder Cup. He's not far off tying Faldo's record, I think it is. To have someone like that on the team and still playing some great golf is a massive asset to Team Europe.

Q. Elaborate a bit more on just how hard it's been to focus in the wake of your brother's unfortunate comments.
DANNY WILLETT: Yeah, that's been the toughest thing I guess. What was said was said and there's no going back on anything like that.

You know, like I said, I spoke to Davis and spoke to the guys and hopefully we can draw a line. But yeah, it's been pretty tricky for me to get back on and fully focus these last few hours, especially this morning.

So like I said, we've got a few little bits to do this afternoon. I've got media here and we're going to try and get some nice, good, quiet practice in in the hour before the Opening Ceremony and go back and get rested up and come back tomorrow morning. Not saying it's going to be completely forgotten, but hopefully it's died down a little bit more and hopefully we can all get on with what we're here to do.

Q. Pete's obviously written quite a few articles since the Masters. Did you have any idea that that was the topic he was going to choose? Have you had any input previously into anything he's written?
DANNY WILLETT: No, I've not had any input, no. Obviously he's a writer. It's one of those things. I guess because he's my brother, it kind of gives people a little bit more reason to read some of the things based within the golfing circumstances; they obviously think that, I don't know, either he spoke to me or gets all the things for me.

But he's a writer, and unfortunately that's not quite panned out great the last few days that he's obviously associated with myself. But like I said, that's nothing to do with me. If he was someone else and his last name wasn't Willett, nobody would really be making that much of a fuss about it. It was just an unfortunate circumstance.

Q. How was the reception during the practice round? I guess you got a drive off the fairway and ended up hitting a spectator?
DANNY WILLETT: Yeah, that was on the second -- knocked it backwards, actually. It was all right. It was what you can expect. I don't think anyone ever came to America, any of the European lads, and thought it was going to be a walk in the park. There's some pretty rowdy American fans every Ryder Cup. That's the nature of the beast, that's what happens. Same when the guys come to Europe. Obviously the European spectators are more behind The European Team. That's how it works. At the same time, you don't mind the odd bit of heckling, but hope it doesn't go to far.

Q. Obviously your family are out here, I think I might have seen your parents out here; what impact has this all had on them? And were they always happy to stay here after this kind of blew up or was there any question of them going home?
DANNY WILLETT: Like I said, it's an unfortunate one as a rookie. It's supposed to be a special week. It's the first one hopefully of many and we're all here to try and have a great time and try to be in and around what is a dream come true, in slipping on a European Ryder Cup shirt.

Yeah, they were upset with the whole thing and how it came about, and obviously what's been said. You know, they spoke to Pete last night, and you know, obviously had a good chat with him. I don't exactly know what about. I've not fully spoken to them fully about it, so I'm not quite sure. But they were there again today walking inside the ropes with me and showing their support, and that's all I can ask.

Q. Are you going to ask your brother to stop writing and Tweeting about golf and you in the future if it's going to affect you on the course?
DANNY WILLETT: I think if it affects things like that, you know, it's not a great thing obviously for myself. Got to be relatively selfish in all of this and say that, you know what, I appreciate maybe it's his career, but it's also mine at the same time. I'm sure we'll have a good chat when I get home after this week.

Q. I might be alone in this room in thinking this, but reading your brother's piece, it seemed to me pretty obvious that he was joking. And I actually thought it was funny. Is there any part of you that thinks the reaction is overblown, and a little ridiculous maybe that you have to apologize; that the captains have to talk to each other, etc.?
DANNY WILLETT: I think it's a tough one. You know, I think the apology that I put across was -- I meant it. And obviously I didn't mean for anything -- for anyone to be offended by it. Obviously I didn't write it, so there's nothing I could have said or done to have changed that.

I have now read it, and I don't think the language was obviously all that great. And I think a lot of the things that were said, you know, can be taken a very bad way and obviously that's what's happened. I still don't think it was correct in what was said. I think it's a very difficult one. Like I said, if it wasn't associated with me, we wouldn't be here talking about it. We'd be talking about the 12 guys and trying to get on and play some golf tomorrow.

You know, but it's just an unfortunate circumstance; and obviously it is my brother and he's written some things there that have offended people. And like I said, we're just trying to move on now. And come tomorrow morning, you've got 24 of the best golfers in the world trying to go head-to-head.

Q. You've apologized, but has Pete apologized to you or do you get the sense that Pete is standing by the words he's written?
DANNY WILLETT: Pete's apologized to me, yeah. On the phone he apologized for the things that's obviously thrown up from this, and obviously how it's kind of been taken over here. He's apologized to me, yeah.

Q. Just two quick ones for you. One, do you feel like you need to say something directly to American golf fans, and number two, how does this impact the quality of the Christmas gift that you will now get your brother (laughter)?
DANNY WILLETT: Family's family. Still my brother. Yeah, what he said was wrong and incredibly ill-timed, but he is still my brother.

And like I said, I mean, I did a couple of interviews with Golf Channel and SKY Sports after speaking to Davis and we felt like we needed to say what we needed to say. Obviously, I've been asked a few questions in here, so hopefully that's answered the first part of that question.

Q. Had he ever said anything to you that might have given you any idea that he felt this way, or do you know of anything that might have happened to him that might have colored the strength of his feeling?
DANNY WILLETT: I have no idea, to be honest. We don't speak about obviously specific things all the time. If he's had an experience, he's had an experience. All the experiences I've had in America have been pretty good so far within my golfing life and within life.

I was at college here for two years, and I've enjoyed coming to America now for the last eight, nine years of my career.

But you know, whether anything's happened to him, I'm not quite sure.

Q. How would you feel about playing against Jordan Spieth?
DANNY WILLETT: I think playing against anyone here would be great. Obviously Jordan is a fantastic player. You know, I think you ask anybody about playing with anybody or against anybody, and you know, we're all just here. We've put a lot of good work in, a lot of good preparation and we're all looking forward to playing whoever we play tomorrow.

Q. To move on from all of this that has happened, this is obviously your first Ryder Cup; as you said, you're one of the six rookies. What has been your favorite part of the week so far and with golf about to kick off tomorrow, Opening Ceremony coming up this afternoon, what are you looking forward to the most?
DANNY WILLETT: It's just the whole team atmosphere, you know. 103 out of 104 weeks, we're a very individual sport. We play on our own. We practice on our own. And for one weekend every two years, you come together as a team.

Because we play a lot of golf in Europe, we're a very closely-knit team and I think that really comes out within this environment. We've got some great people in the backroom staff helping out, and we've had some great people send messages in and come and speak to us.

You know, all of these things, you just add up to fantastic memories and fantastic experiences. And I don't think I can really pick out one thing in particular. It's just so far for me, obviously it's been tarnished slightly, but the first three days have been brilliant.

We've been welcomed fantastically by the American fans like we are everywhere we play golf. Yeah, I'm looking forward, I've got another hour of practice after we get done here and then suited up for the Opening Ceremony. It's a massively proud moment for me to be able to be here obviously representing Europe, and as a rookie, hopefully there will be a fair few many more to come.

JOHN DEVER: Danny Willett, Masters Champion, Ryder Cup Europe, thank you for your time. Have a great week.

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