While I was playing Cabot Links in Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia, (which is unfinished but has been dubbed “the Bandon of the East), I checked the leaderboard for the Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals Classic. Luke Donald and Webb Simpson had only played about four holes, and Luke was still about T15, trailing Kevin Chappell by roughly five shots. I didn’t look at my phone again until the 12th hole and did a double take when I saw Luke tied for the lead.
Six straight birdies to kick off the back nine. I mean, wow. I thought he was done and Webb had insomuch locked up the money title. Not so fast!
This is a bit embarrassing to admit since I was playing this amazing golf course and one of the first to experience all 18 (10 holes opened this summer), but I was a tad disappointed to be missing this exciting clutch performance from Luke. (As I’ve made clear, I’ve been #teamluke.)
Since I’m being rude and late for the group’s Whiskey Tasting (and yeah, we’re staying at a whiskey distillery), I’m going to make this quick.
It was incredibly impressive that with nine holes to play, Luke did exactly what he knew he had to do to win and capture his first PGA Tour money title with $6.68 million, not to mention the seven-figure bonus check from sponsor Ralph Lauren. He also became the first player in history to officially win the honor on both the PGA Tour and European Tour.
With Luke’s victory Sunday, he also probably locked up Player of the Year honors — and deservingly so. Donald won for the second time this year on tour, as many as any other player. He also won the Vardon Trophy for the lowest adjusted scoring average. He notched 14 top tens in 19 starts (74%) on the PGA Tour.
“It’s hard to put into words,” said Donald during his post-win presser. “You know, obviously I came here and I told you guys on Wednesday that the goal was to win. You know, nothing was really going to be good enough other than that.
“I think this is probably one of the most satisfying wins of my career just because of that. It was kind of do or die. Obviously it wasn’t looking great after the 8th hole, but I knew I was going to get on to a run.”
Sunday’s victory was the first stroke play event that Donald had won in five years. His last one came at the 2006 Honda Classic.
“This means a lot…To do it (make birdies) when I needed to, to know that under pressure I was able to pull off the shots when I needed to to hole the putts, and obviously to get ahead of Webb (Simpson) on the Money List and win this event.
“This is obviously the first stroke‑play event I’ve won in the U.S. for five years, too, which is pretty special. It’s just knowing that I had to do it and being able to do it, and all of it kind of went along with, you know, picking up the first place. It’s very, very special.”
When you drive into Disney World, this is the sign you drive under, which I tweeted earlier this week:
“It’s a little bit ironic, I suppose, that Donald Duck was handing me the trophy,” said Donald. “Every morning I was riding into Disney World and I think the banner says, ‘Where dreams come true’ or ‘Where dreams are made.’”
With This Victory…
*Earns fourth PGA TOUR victory in 217th career PGA TOUR start at the age of 33 years, 10 months, 16 days.
*PGA TOUR CAREER VICTORIES (4):
2002 Southern Farm Bureau Classic
2006 The Honda Classic
2011 World Golf Championships – Accenture Match Play Championship; Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals Classic
Earns a five-year exemption for winning the 2011 leader in official earnings (through 2016).
*2011 CHILDREN’S MIRACLE NETWORK HOSPITALS CLASSIC
Earns victory in his third start at the Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals Classic. Was T36 (67-68-71-68) in 2002 and missed the cut (69-71) in 2003.
All 10 of his rounds at Disney are under-par.
Going into the final round, had to finish in at least a two-way tie for second to have a chance to take the lead in official earnings.
Was 9-under on the par-3s, 4-under on the par-4s and 4-under on the par-5s this week.
Had six straight birdies from Nos. 10-15.
Came from five shots back in the final round to win his second event on TOUR this season. Brandt Snedeker’s six shot come-from-behind on the last day at the RBC Heritage to win is the largest on TOUR this season. The tournament record for best final-round comeback is six by Larry Nelson (1987) and Duffy Waldorf (2000).
Wins the Arnold Palmer Award for being the leader in official earnings ($6,683,214). Webb Simpson finished second in the official earnings at $6,347,353.
Picks up his first win on TOUR since taking over the No. 1 ranking in the Official World Golf Rankings in June.
Won fourth career event on TOUR and second in Florida (2006 Honda Classic).
Is the first international player to win the TOUR money title since Vijay Singh in 2008. Is the first player from England to win the TOUR money title.
Only one other time since 1990 has the money list lead changed hands in the final week of the season. The year was 1996 when Tom Lehman entered the week with $1,240,159 and won the TOUR Championship to earn $540,000 for a season total of $1,780,159, passing Phil Mickelson who had entered the week of TOUR Championship with $1,620,99 and finished 12th to earn $76,800 for a season total of $1,697,799.
(AP Photo/John Raoux)