Luke Donald completes order of merit double
Luke Donald was on top of the world in more ways than one on Sunday after becoming the first player to win the money-list crowns in Europe and the United States.
Rival Rory McIlroy needed to win the Dubai World Championship to deny Englishman Donald the chance of topping the order of merit in Europe but the young Northern Irishman ended up in joint 11th place on nine-under 279 after closing with a 71.
The 34-year-old Donald, who has been at the summit of the world rankings for 27 weeks, had already clinched the US Tour's money-list crown in October.
"I couldn't see Rory's name on the leaderboard but I kind of knew the double was mine by the 13th hole," Donald told reporters after shooting a 66 for 272 to take third place behind Dubai winner Alvaro Quiros of Spain (269).
"I knew I had made history and the last six holes were kind of surreal," added the winner of this year's WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship in Arizona, PGA Championship at Wentworth, Scottish Open in Inverness and Disney Classic in Florida.
"The pressure went away and I was able to enjoy myself, have a few smiles and enjoy the walk. I guess that's what it is all about," added Donald.
McIlroy has been feeling tired and drained after suffering with a viral infection for a couple of weeks and he said this had simply been a tournament too far at the end of a hectic playing schedule.
"I couldn't get anything going when I needed to. I played a nine-hole stretch, the last two on Friday and the first seven on Saturday, in five over par. That's where the tournament got away from me," said McIlroy.
The world number two said he would skip next week's inaugural Thailand Golf Championship, the last event of the season on the Asian Tour.
"I can't wait to have a few weeks off," added McIlroy. "People telling you what to do and where to go, another flight, more sleeping patterns messed up. Next week would have been a big struggle too.
"The doctor told me last night that no matter how bad I'm feeling now I'd be even worse if I played next week."
McIlroy will next be in action at the Abu Dhabi Championship from Jan. 26-29.
As for Donald, he was basking in the glow of a campaign he did not even dare to dream of at the turn of the year.
"It's something you always hope for and believe is possible," he said. "But doing it and believing it is totally different.
"There were a lot of lean years there for a while when I wasn't winning. You've just got to keep believing that at some point it's going to be your time."
Donald still has next week's Australian Masters to play in before his competitive year is done.
Donald was asked how his father, who died a month ago, would have reacted to his success.
"He popped into my head a few times today especially after the 13th hole," the Englishman replied.
"I just remembered him and I think he would have been very proud of me. I'm sure he would have given me a big hug."
Factbox on world number one Luke Donald of Britain, who on Sunday became the first golfer to win the European Tour and US PGA Tour money-list titles:
* Born Dec. 7, 1977 in Hemel Hempstead, England.
* Turned professional in 2001. Won the Southern Farm Bureau Classic the following year, becoming the 11th US PGA Tour rookie to earn more than $1 million in his first season.
* Won the European Masters and Scandinavian Masters on the European Tour in 2004.
* Member of the victorious European Ryder Cup teams in 2004, 2006 and 2010.
* Won the World Cup for England in partnership with Paul Casey in 2004.
* Moved into the world top 20 in 2006 and later in the year made the top 10 after winning the Honda Classic.
* Won the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship in February, beating Martin Kaymer 3&2 in the final. It was his third US PGA Tour victory but his first in an elite World Golf Championship event.
* Finished tied for fourth at the 2011 US Masters after winning the par-three tournament at Augusta.
* Beat Lee Westwood in a playoff at the PGA Championship at Wentworth in May, replacing his compatriot as world number one.
* Despite poor showings at the US Open and British Open, Donald won the Scottish Open in between the two majors in early July and recorded another top-10 finish at the year's final major, the US PGA Championship in August.
* Donald maintained his consistency until the US PGA Tour's season-ending Disney Classic where, having to win to pip American Webb Simpson for the money-list title, he fired a closing eight-under 64 to claim his fourth victory of the season.
* Came under pressure from world number two Rory McIlroy in the race to win the European Tour order of merit. When the Northern Irishman failed to win the Dubai World Championship, it was confirmed Donald would finish top.
* Donald is a keen amateur artist who earned a degree in art theory and practice at Northwestern University in the US.