Disney becomes Donald's magic money kingdom

Kevin Currie, Golf Editor

Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - With a new baby on the way any day, what better way to bring that new bundle of joy into the world than with another huge pay day.

Luke Donald, the top-ranked player in the world, added the Children's Miracle Network Hospitals Classic to his schedule for one reason, he wanted to win the money title.

To some, that might seem like a selfish goal.

However, Donald was just trying to gain a bit of golf history. He also holds a healthy lead of over 1.3 million euros on the European Tour's Order of Merit.

If Donald could jump back past Webb Simpson for the PGA Tour money lead, he could become the first player to top both money lists in the same season.

The battle for the top spot on the money list became as compelling a story as those battling to get inside the top 125 on the money list to keep their tour cards for next year.

Adding to the excitement, the PGA Tour paired Donald and Simpson for the first two rounds. Little did they know, the two players would match each others play through three rounds, so much so that they were again grouped together in the third and final rounds.

There is just one thing missing from Donald's resume - a major championship. He has four top-fives and six top-10s in majors, but adding one of the big four will be the cherry on top of mountain of money he has won.
The final round seemed like a see-saw through nine holes with Donald moving ahead of Simpson early, before Simpson rallied with four consecutive birdies from the seventh to move ahead of Donald.

Donald needed at worst a two-way tie for second for any chance to take the money title from Simpson. When Donald and Simpson made the turn, Simpson was two clear of Donald and seemingly well on his way to the money title.

Not that either of these players was overly concerned about this fact, but the leading money winner gains a five-year exemption. Donald was already exempt for the next three years with his title at the WGC-Accenture Match Play and Simpson had a two year-exemption with his win at this year's Wyndham Championship.

With an extra couple of years of exempt status on the line, Donald lit up the back nine like a Fourth of July fireworks display.

He matched Simpson's birdie on the 10th to remain two back. For Donald, that was the start of something special. He birdied each of the next five holes as well, to turn four-stroke deficit into a two-shot lead.

The field was now looking up at the top-ranked player in the world and had less than six holes to pick up two strokes.

Donald parred the last three holes, then waited for nearly an hour as the last four groups finished out.

The fourth-to-last group was no threat so he breathed a little sigh of relief there.

In the next group, Tom Pernice, Jr. and Sunghoon Kang were both fighting not only for the victory, but also just trying to get inside the top 125 on the money list.

Both players had two birdies on the back nine, but ended three back at 14- under. Count that as another bullet dodged for Donald.

Of the last six players on the course, just four had any hope of catching Donald. In the penultimate group, Nick O'Hern and Billy Mayfair, who won Q- School in 2010, were within three strokes down the stretch, but O'Hern bogeyed 17 and both dropped shots on the 18th.

Mayfair, along with Pernice and Kang, did manage to get inside the top 125 to keep their tour cards.

It was down to one final group for Donald to sweat out. Kevin Chappell birdied the 14th to move within two, but had three pars and a bogey the rest of the way.

It all came down to Justin Leonard. The former British Open champion had an uncharacteristically bad putting day to that point.

And luckily for Donald, that bad putting day did in Leonard. He had four birdie putts inside 20 feet from the 11th to 15th, but converted none of them. After three straight two-putt pars (all from over 35 feet), Leonard needed a miracle at the last.

Simpson had ended in a tie for seventh, so a solo second for Donald was no good. Simpson still would have won the money title. Therefore, Leonard's second shot on the par-four 18th had the fate of three players riding on it.

Donald was the only one happy to see Leonard's approach shot come to rest in a bunker left of the green.

The 33-year-old Donald, already the top-ranked player in the world, had not only won the Disney title, but also the money crown.

There is just one thing missing from Donald's resume - a major championship. He has four top-fives and six top-10s in majors, but adding one of the big four will be the cherry on top of mountain of money he has won.


Women's world No. 1 Yani Tseng played her first LPGA Tour event in her homeland of Taiwan over the weekend.

She disappointed no one.

Signing hundreds, if not thousands, of autographs along the way, Tseng closed with rounds of 67-66 to cruise to a five-stroke title.

Tseng owns a comfortable lead on the money list as she has now won more than double Cristie Kerr's earnings. Without a victory this year, Kerr is still second on the money list with over $1.4 million. Tseng pushed her money total to over $2.87 million.

The 22-year-old Tseng, who had locked up the LPGA Tour Player of the Year award before this event, won her 12th career LPGA Tour title. That includes five major championship crowns.

Tseng has won six of her last 12 starts on the LPGA Tour and pushed her lead atop the women's world rankings to 7.10 average points. That is the largest lead since Lorena Ochoa was 7.51 average points clear of Annika Sorenstam in November 2008.


- Bobby Gates finished 126th on the PGA Tour money list by $1,431. He will have partially exempt status for 2012. D.J. Trahan poured in a 22-footer for birdie on his final hole to secure the 125th spot on the money list.

- Sergio Garcia had rounds of 63-64-63 the final three days to win by 11 at his home course in Spain. He would have matched or set several European Tour records, but lift, clean and place conditions were in play.

Comments? Criticism? Applause? Contact Kevin Currie at kcurrie@sportsnetwork.com.

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