Paul Anthony Arco

The Takeaway

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Luke's Magic Kingdom

Monday, October 24, 2011


In what’s already been a magical season for Luke Donald just got a whole lot better at the place where dreams come true.

 

Donald strung together six straight birdies on the back nine Sunday to climb from five strokes back at the PGA TOUR season finale Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals Classic on the Walt Disney World Resort.

 

He shot an 8-under 64 in what he called one of his most satisfying wins of his career. Donald finished at 17-under 271 and earned $846,000, good enough to reach $6.6 million. He trailed Webb Simpson by $363,029 coming into the final tournament of the year; ironically, he was two behind Simpson at the turn on Sunday.

 

Donald showed why he is No. 1 in the Official World Golf Ranking when he holed four straight birdie putts inside 8 feet, took the lead with an 18-foot birdie on No. 14, and then drained a 45-foot birdie on No. 15.

 

Donald beat Justin Leonard by two strokes. Leonard shot a final-round 71 to finish 15-under 271. Tom Pernice Jr., Sunghoon Kang and Kevin Chappell finished T3 at 14-under 274.

 

It was Donald at his best as he won his second PGA TOUR this year. To top it off, Donald also won the Vardon Trophy for the lowest adjusted scoring average.

 

How good was Donald this year? It was his 14th top 10 finish. Meet your PGA TOUR Player of the Year, golf fans.

 

The only golfer with an outside chance to claim the prize is Simpson, who won two of his own tournaments, and was runner up on the money list and the FedEx Cup.

 

Now Donald has a new goal in sight – to become the first golfer to win the money title on both the PGA TOUR and European Tour in the same year. He’s $1.8 million ahead of Rory McIlroy with five tournaments left.

 

There’s more.

 

Donald is the first international players to win the PGA TOUR money title since Vijay Singh did it in 2008, and he’s the first golfer from England to ever win the PGA TOUR money title.

 

And, like Ben Crane last week, winning a golf tournament isn’t the only thing Donald has to look forward to this week. He and his wife are expecting their second child.

 

That’s pretty magical, too.

 

Nationwide Tour

 

Gavin Coles won for fifth time on the Nationwide Tour with a one-stroke win over Jonas Blixt at the Winn-Dixie Jacksonville Open at TPC Sawgrass.

 

Coles started the day at 7-under but shot a 1-over 71 to beat Blixt, who also shot a 71. Coles finished 6-under 274. He moved to No. 15 on the money list and is in the hunt for The 25 PGA TOUR. He has had three previous stints on the PGA TOUR.

 

His last win came at the 2008 Chitimacha Louisiana Open. His five wins are tied for third-most in Nationwide Tour history.

 

David Lingmerth finished third, and Tommy Biershenk and Danny Lee were T4.

 

Blixt, who played at Florida State, was looking for his first Nationwide Tour win. He has three runner up finishes and seven top 10s this year.

 

Billy Hurley III is on the bubble at No. 25 on the money list entering next week’s Nationwide Tour Championship at Daniel Island. He finished T55 this weekend at Winn Dixie.

 

Stray Shots

 

Leonard was looking for his 13th career win on the PGA TOUR. His last victory came in a playoff at the 2008 FedEx St. Jude Classic. He lost in a playoff to Stephen Ames at Disney in 2009. He’s finished in the top 125 on the money list every year since joining the PGA TOUR in 1994 ... Chappell, who tied for the 54-hole lead with Leonard, was looking for his first victory on the PGA TOUR; he made the cut in 13 of 26 TOUR starts this year. Last year, Chappell, who played on the UCLA NCAA championship team three years ago, won the 2010 Fresh Express Classic at TPC Stonebrae on the Nationwide Tour … Bio Kim, 21, needed at least a two-way tie for second to secure his tour card for next year. He finished T20 … Bill Lunde missed the cut, but won the season-long Kodak Challenge and $1 million …James Driscoll, who came into the week at No. 125, ended up T12 and moved up 11 spots in the money list … Several players fell out of the top 125, including Bobby Gates, who dropped two spots to No. 126; Roland Thatcher, who fell seven to No. 127: Tiger Woods, who went from No. 121 to 128, and Stuart Appleby, who fell seven to No. 122. Appleby and Woods are still exempt for 2012 … Sunghoon Kang, Billy Mayfair and Tom Pernice Jr. all played their way into the all-exempt 125 on the money list to save their playing privileges for 2012 … Kevin Na finished No. 30 on the money list to earn a spot in the 2012 Masters … Among the notables who missed the cut this weekend were D.A. Points, Boo Weekley, Kevin Streelman, Charles Howell III and Tommy Gainey … No player won three or more events on the PGA TOUR this year; that has only happened two other times (1983 and 1991). Congrats to Mayfair, who finished No. 109 to earn his card. He’s one of the good guys on the TOUR and always makes time for fans and the media, regardless of how well he’s played that day.  



Paul Anthony Arco is a freelance writer and contributor to rotoworld.com. He is host of The Golf Show!, which airs Saturday mornings on WNTA 1330 AM (www.wnta.com) in Rockford, Ill. Paul can be reached at paul@paulanthonyarco.com
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