Luke Donald wins US money list with Disney Classic victory

Disney Classic final round leaderboard

  • -17: L Donald (Eng)
  • -15: J Leonard (US)
  • -14: T Pernice Jr (US), S Kang (Kor), K Chappell (US)
  • Selected others: -13: T Immelman (SA), W Simpson (US)
  • -11: H Stenson (Swe)
Luke Donald

Donald's back nine included six consecutive birdies

Britain's Luke Donald clinched the PGA Tour money list title with victory at the Disney Classic in Florida.

The world number one played a magnificent back nine which included six birdies on the way to a 64.

Donald's chances looked far from certain with a bogey six on the eighth but his round came alive on the back nine.

Playing partner and PGA money list rival Webb Simpson finished the tournament four shots behind Donald.

The triumph means Englishman Donald is on course to become the first player to top the money lists in both the United States and Europe.

Analysis

Donald's reputation has been for collecting big cheques with consistently high finishes rather than an out-and-out winner. Revision of that assessment is long overdue.

This was an astonishing victory. The Englishman only entered the final PGA Tour event of year to try to gain the top two finish that might win him the money list. A stunning final-round 64 did the job in spectacular style.

It was his fourth win of the year, he is destined to claim the Race to Dubai in Europe as well - no one's done that before - and Donald is more than justifying his position as world number one

In Europe the 33-year-old leads by over £1m, but there are eight events left and he will be missing some because his wife Diane is expecting their second child in the next fortnight.

Donald had to win the Florida tournament or finish second to top the money list. It did not look a certainty with eight holes to play as Donald, Simpson, Billy Mayfair and Justin Leonard trailed 15-under-par tournament leader Kevin Chappell by one stroke.

Donald then started playing majestic golf with consecutive birdies on 10, 11, 12, 13, 14 and 15.

He took sole lead of the tournament on the 14th and strengthened his position with an extraordinary 45-foot putt on 15.

His form appeared to put Simpson off his stroke. The 26-year-old American, three under for the front nine, found himself making pars rather than birdies down the home stretch.

Donald, born in Hemel Hempstead, parred 16, 17 and 18 to card his 64 and finish 17 under par.

"I didn't play the par fives well," the Englishman said. "But what better time to go on a run than the final round back nine when everything was on the line?

DONALD - 2011 PGA TOUR

  • Events: 19
  • Cuts: 16
  • Wins: 2
  • Top 10s: 14

"I wasn't too happy with my swing earlier in the week but it's nice to do it under pressure. All credit to [coach] Pat Goss and the good team I have around me.

"It's been a tremendous year for me. I answered a lot of critics' questions coming here knowing I had to win, and doing it."

A gracious Simpson conceded: "I just ran into a buzz saw! I expected the best player in the world to play well but I didn't quite expect six birdies in a row. I didn't quite have my game where I wanted it."

Donald's Disney win was his fourth PGA career success but his first PGA strokeplay victory since the Honda Classic in 2006.

Donald is still chasing his first major victory, but has posted 14 top 10 finishes in 19 US tournaments in 2011.

The £531,000 Disney Classic cheque took him on to a total of £4.19m ($6.68m) US winnings this year, with Webb Simpson finishing on £3.98m ($6.34m).

Donald currently leads the European Tour money list with £3.34m in earnings, £1.14m clear of Northern Ireland's Rory McIlroy.

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