IF ANYONE DOUBTED that Luke Donald is the best player in the world at this moment in time, I hope his performance on Sunday at the Children’s Miracle Network Classic has gone a long way to making you believe otherwise.
It was arguably his best round of the year in what is undoubtedly the best season of his career. The six birdies in a row from hole number 10 were a manifestation of a man in total control and playing his best golf.
As much as it was a joy to watch, there was also a sense of disbelief that he was actually producing birdie after birdie after birdie…
He made 10 birdies in total during the final round. Truly outstanding golf from a guy who knew that a win was pretty much the only way he could guarantee finishing the season on top of the PGA Tour money list.
That he did, but it’s only phase one of the master plan. Phase two is the European Tour money list, or Race to Dubai as it has become. Luckily for Donald, he already has a lead of just over €1.3million over Rory McIlroy in second. He has even played four fewer tournaments, further proof that he has played the best golf on the planet this year.
To win both the PGA Tour and European Tour money lists would be an absolutely remarkable achievement. Not only do you have to play better than everyone else, you also have to fulfil schedules on both tours and that can really take its toll. Should he complete the feat, he would become the first player ever to do so.
Sure, some might argue that Tiger Woods could easily have done that in his prime if he’d played in enough tournaments, but the fact is he didn’t. Playing 15 events on both tours is not easy and requires a huge amount of travel and commitment. If it was easy, there’d be far more people than just the handful who decide to cross the pond more times than is absolutely necessary in a given year.
Luke Donald is more than just an extremely talented golfer. He is a guy who has his head in the right place and is meticulous in his quest for self-improvement. Alan Shipnuck of Sports Illustrated gave us a brilliant insight into Donald’s character back in May of this year in an article which goes a long way to explaining how Donald has got to where he now his and how we are likely to see him kick on and keep improving over the coming years.
One of Donald’s great buddies on the circuit is Sergio Garcia, and how good was it to see him back in the winner’s circle at the weekend at the Castello Masters?
The three years or so since his last victory have been a pretty rough ride for Garcia, but this season he has been different. As he said himself after the final round, “I’ve been improving all year.” He is back up to just outside the top 30 in the world rankings which would suggest he’s had a pretty good season, particularly when you consider that he had to qualify for some of the Majors this year.
He’s one of those players that when the various parts of the game come together for him he’s almost unstoppable. In shooting 27 under par over four rounds, he set a new record for the lowest winning total in relation to par this year, and just two off Ernie Els’ all-time record of 29 under par.
Qualifying for Majors is something he won’t have to worry about over the next couple of years given his winner’s exemption and his world ranking. If he can click again like he did this weekend, there’s no doubting he could pocket a big one.
The same can be said for Donald. One of the big criticisms aimed at the Englishman is that he doesn’t have a Major on his CV, and that is certainly something he will have in mind to rectify. He has now had three top-1o finishes at the US Masters, where he finished 4th this year, and many would see Augusta as his best chance to become a Major champion.