With his breakout season, Britain’s Luke Donald has quietly laid claim to the position of golf’s top player, assuming the role in a much different manner than former world number one Tiger Woods.
While Woods once occupied the throne with breathtaking power and dominance, Donald climbed the ranks with precision and consistency signalling a new era in the game.
Donald’s win at the Disney Classic on Sunday, which allowed him to capture the PGA Tour money-list title, was crafted with his irons and putter as he leaned on the accuracy that has him on the verge of becoming the first player to win the orders of merit on both sides of the Atlantic.
“It would mean a big deal to win both money lists,” Donald, a four-time winner on the PGA Tour, told reporters.
“Getting to number one and holding onto it and extending my lead and winning four times now, you know, obviously that’s a pretty good year.”
It is quite the feat for the 33-year-old Donald, who was once known as more of an also-ran than a champion.
But with his most recent triumphs, Donald’s close finishes are now being considered a sign of his unwavering consistency.
In compiling two wins on the PGA Tour this season, Donald finished outside of the top 25 on just three occasions in 19 tournaments.
He also added two victories in Europe this year, winning the BMW Championship to wrestle the world number one ranking from Lee Westwood in May, before claiming the Scottish Open in July.
An uneven performance in the majors was the only blemish on Donald’s 2011 record. Despite top-10 finishes at the Masters and PGA Championship, he missed the cut at the British Open and was never in contention at the U.S. Open.
Winning a major would be the final piece in solidifying Donald’s career, and after his season of ascension he may have proven that he is up for the challenge.
“I think I answered a lot of critics’ questions, coming to Disney knowing I had to win and coming up with the goods when I needed to,” said Donald, who needed to finish no worse than in a two-way tie for second to take the money-list honours.
“I feel like I’ve answered all the questions thrown at me.”