Golf Claps & Silent Treatment: CMN Hospitals Classic
All hail Luke Donald, the undisputed No. 1 golfer in the world.
Technically, Donald has stood atop the world golf ranking since May 29, when he unseated fellow Englishman Lee Westwood. But there’s been plenty of clamor in the meantime, his critics arguing that Donald hadn’t done enough to earn the top spot.
Nevermind that no one else had, either, since Tiger Woods abdicated the throne last year. The major-less Donald, who went five years without a PGA Tour win (2006-2011), was an easy target.
With his incredible come-from-behind victory at the Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals Classic in Orlando, Donald silenced the doubters. Six straight birdies and a closing 64 were his polite way of saying “Shut up,” in proper King’s English, of course.
As a bonus, Donald leapfrogged Webb Simpson to claim the tour’s money title with a cool $6,683,214 on the year. That’s even more impressive when you consider how much he plays overseas. In fact, Donald’s in position to win the European Tour’s money race as well, which would make him the first person to take both in the same year.
Yeah, he’s No. 1.
Now on to our cheers and jeers, golf style, for the weekend that was:
Luke Donald: Did we mention that he played alongside Simpson for all four rounds of the CMN? Or that Donald was two shots behind his playing partner, and four shots off the lead, with eight holes to go?
Disney trappings aside, this was a gutsy performance. It may just have locked up PGA Tour Player of the Year honors, too. Donald was one of seven players with a pair of wins this season (not counting two in Europe) and by far the most consistent of the bunch.
The lone missing piece to his resumé remains that elusive major. At age 33, his time is now.
Sergio Garcia: While Donald was busy stamping his signature on the 2011 season, Garcia marked his resurgence complete with an 11-shot victory at the Castello Masters. The Spaniard thrilled a home crowd with a final-round 63 to lap the field, dedicating his win to the late, great Seve Ballesteros.
Having emerged from the oblivion that was 2010, Garcia may be poised to finally fulfill the potential he flashed as a teenager and 20-something. Welcome back, El Niño.
David Duval and Ben Curtis: A pair of former Open Championship winners, Duval and Curtis failed to earn exempt status for the tour in 2012. Duval, who seemed to be inching (ever so slowly) back to something like his old form, slipped to 152nd on the money list by missing the CMN cut. Curtis did likewise to finish 149th for the year.