UK’s Donald named PGA Player of the Year

Britain’s Luke Donald, the first player to win the US and European tour money titles in the same year, was named the US PGA Player of the Year on Tuesday in a vote of US tour players.

World No. 1 Donald, the first Englishman to win the award since it was founded in 1990, won the last US PGA event of the year, the Children’s Miracle Network Classic, to claim the US money title with $6 683 214.

Donald, who turned 34 last week, won the European Tour’s Race to Dubai, making birdies on the final three holes at the Dubai World Championships to finish atop the European Tour money list with €5.323-million.

The player of the year award, praise earned from fellow players, ended Donald’s US campaign in style after he also claimed the Vardon Award for low adjusted scoring average at 68.86.

“That’s a great honour to cap off what has obviously been an amazing year for me,” Donald said of the player of the year vote.

“Thank you to all the players for their votes. There was obviously some other worthy people to vote for, and I guess my overall consistency and having to go to Disney and win, and win the money list like I did, was a deciding factor … I feel very honoured at the moment.”

More expectation
Donald still seeks his first Major title. His best finish in a Major this year was fourth at the Masters. Only four prior times in the past two decades has a PGA Player of the Year not won a Major title in that same year.

“I suppose there’s a little bit more pressure, a little bit more expectation, in Majors and I need to learn to better handle that,” Donald said.

“Obviously, this year has been a breakout year for me in terms of my confidence levels, and hopefully those confidence levels will be carried over to next year and will serve me well in the Majors.”

Donald, who also won the World Golf Championships Match-Play crown last February, had 14 top-10 showings in 19 US PGA starts, with runner-up showings at the WGC Bridgestone Invitational and Heritage events.

Other top contenders for the Jack Nicklaus Trophy as US PGA Player of the Year were Keegan Bradley, Bill Haas, Webb Simpson and Nick Watney.

Bradley, the American who captured his first Major title at the PGA Championship last August, was named the US PGA Rookie of the Year.

“I’m thrilled to win the rookie of the year,” Bradley said. “It’s a huge honour.” — AFP

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