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Praise pours in for Donald  (Getty Images)
Praise pours in for Donald (Getty Images)

The final event of the European Tour season was won by the man who has been the Tour’s biggest hitter for four of the last five years. But it is England’s Luke Donald, with a driving average of 282 yards which leaves him ranked 145th and some 30 yards behind Spaniard Alvaro Quiros, whose year has been the stuff of dreams.

World Number One, leading money winner on the US PGA Tour and now The Race to Dubai champion as well, Donald has shown that brute force is not a pre-requisite for golfing success.

Accuracy and a brilliant short game have still to bring the 34 year old a Major title, and that inevitably is the top target for 2012. But they have given him four victories, a stunning 20 top ten finishes in his last 25 events, and an incredible €9,966,436 in prize money.

The first man to top the money lists on both sides of the Atlantic in the same season, Donald is not done for the year yet.

Before heading off to this week’s Australian Masters in Melbourne, the 34 year old said: “I’m sure there are golfers out there that have looked at my success and figured out that you don’t need to hit it a hundred miles.

“Obviously 350 yards off the tee helps – it’s one of Alvaro’s biggest strengths – but there’s definitely more to this game.

“I would certainly love to hit it further – I think it would make life a little easier – but I’ve got to stick with what I have and what my talents are.

“I think people are taking notice of what I’ve done and how I’ve done it, and maybe people will change the way they approach practice.”

Donald prides himself on his work ethic, but also believes he has a great team around him in coach Pat Goss, who has been there since The Ryder Cup star’s University days in Chicago, sports psychologist Dave Alred – the man who helped Jonny Wilkinson become a World Cup winner – and caddie John McLaren.

The last of that trio has been on the bag since the end of the 2009 season after Donald took the difficult decision not to have brother Christian alongside him on the course any more.

“It was a tough thing to do,” he said. “But sometimes change is good. My brother and I did pretty well to last eight years. Everyone who has brothers and sisters, you know it can be tough at times.

“Chris has never had a jealous bone in his body. He’s always wanted the best for me, but the relationship on the course was getting a little bit stale – it was as simple as that.

“It was affecting our relationship as brothers, and as soon as I mentioned it he knew as well that it was the right thing to do.”

Christian, now with World Number Four Martin Kaymer, was there to greet Donald after he ended the European season with a third-place finish at the Dubai World Championship presented by DP World.

“He just said, ‘Well done and you would have made Dad proud. Well done for doing it for Dad’.”

Donald has two children of his own now, his second daughter being born shortly after the recent death of his father, and while careers are measured in Majors more than anything, he has set his family up for life.

From tournament prize money this year, he has banked a total of €7,359,552, and he has also earned a €1,499,710 bonus for finishing third in the FedEx Cup in America and a € 1,107,174 bonus for winning The Race to Dubai.

His total of €9,966,436, with the potential to add even more this week, is more than Tiger Woods has managed in any year, including in 2006 when he won 11 times.

Donald finished a cumulative 116 under par on the US PGA Tour and 90 under par on The European Tour – and that does not include the two match play events, one of which he won and the other in which he was runner-up.

He won The Race to Dubai despite playing six fewer events than runner-up Rory McIlroy, and he topped the American Money List despite playing seven fewer than runner-up Webb Simpson. It truly was an amazing double.

In 2012, Donald wants to give himself the best possible chance going into all four majors. First up is the Masters Tournament at Augusta, where he was fourth this year and third on his debut in 2005.

If he can maintain his current levels of performance, it would be no surprise if Donald were to receive the Green Jacket from fellow European Tour champion Charl Schwartzel next April.

 

 

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