McCabe: Added satisfaction for PoY Donald
Tuesday, December 13, 2011
Luke Donald’s latest victory did not come accompanied by an enormous check, just a whole lot of satisfaction.
To the surprise of no one, the 34-year-old Donald capped off a brilliant and remarkably consistent season by being voted the PGA Tour’s Player of the Year by his peers. Oh, there were contenders for this Jack Nicklaus Award – Webb Simpson, Keegan Bradley, Bill Haas and Nick Watney, to be exact – but even Tour commissioner Tim Finchem conceded that Donald “was clearly the best player this year,” and being voted that way by his fellow players pleased Donald.
“I felt like I deserved it,” Donald said, “but I really appreciate their support.”
As if what he did on the PGA Tour (two wins and 13 top 10s in 19 starts, low scoring average) wasn’t enough to carry the vote, England's Donald pretty much solidified all the postseason tribulations by topping the money lists in America and Europe.
World No. 1 Luke Donald in 2011
A look at Luke Donald's year in golf.
“To be the first (to win both money titles in the same year) is very special,” Donald said.
In a season of uncanny consistency, Donald played 25 times between the PGA Tour, European Tour, major championships and World Golf Championships, and he finished in the top 10 a whopping 19 times. There were four wins worldwide, including the European Tour’s flagship event, the BMW PGA, and just two missed cuts.
But this honor was for what he did on the PGA Tour, and if it was a triumph at the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship in February that opened the door to great success, it surely was what he did at the PGA Tour finale in October, the Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals Classic, that closed the door to anyone else’s chances for POY honors.
Adding the Disney event at the last minute to try and wrestle the money title away from Simpson, Donald closed with a stirring 64 to win the tournament and succeed in amazing fashion. He then went to Europe and nailed down that title, too.
In becoming the first Englishman and third foreign-born player to be voted the Jack Nicklaus Award winner since it began in 1990, Donald added to his postseason stash. Earlier this fall, he topped a points list that the PGA of America compiles to name its PGA Tour Player of the Year. He also is on the ballot for male Player of the Year, as voted by the Golf Writers Association of America (to be announced in late December).
One of the players whom Donald beat out for POY honors, Bradley, did not go away empty-handed. The stunning winner of the PGA Championship was voted by PGA Tour members as the tour’s Rookie of the Year.
“It’s an award you can only win once,” Bradley said. “You just get one chance at it.”
Bradley, 25, certainly helped his cause by winning in May at the HP Byron Nelson Championship, but it was what he did in August at Atlanta Athletic Club that separated himself from a strong rookie class. Having triple bogeyed the 15th hole in the final round to fall five strokes back, Bradley birdied Nos. 16 and 17 and earned a playoff chance against Jason Dufner. With the three-hole, aggregate victory, Bradley became the first to win in his major-championship debut since Ben Curtis in the 2003 Open Championship.