Luke Donald added yet another prize to his glittering list of honors for 2011, picking up the European Tour’s Golfer of the Year award on Thursday.
Shedding his ”underachiever” tag, the 34-year-old Englishman won three titles on the European Tour and finished in the top 10 in 20 of his 26 tournaments worldwide, helping him become the first player to officially win money lists on both sides of the Atlantic.
Two days after becoming the first Englishman to be voted the PGA Tour’s Player of the Year since the inaugural award in 1990, Donald picked up the European equivalent for the first time.
”It was good to see all the hard work I have put in coming to fruition,” Donald said. ”I was delighted with my game this year and it is rewarding to feel that, sometimes, consistency does pay off.
”Everyone dreams of having a year like this and I am very excited and feel fortunate that it happened to me.”
Donald received the most votes from a judging panel featuring golf journalists and commentators to beat 2011 major winners Darren Clarke, Rory McIlroy and Charl Schwartzel.
A first major title remains elusive – he tied for fourth at the Masters and tied for eighth at the PGA Championship – but Donald won over his critics in 2011 by capturing four tournaments worldwide.
After beating Martin Kaymer 3 & 2 in the final of Match Play Championship in Arizona in February, Donald defeated Lee Westwood in a playoff to win the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth, the European Tour’s flagship event, to supplant his compatriot as the world’s top-ranked player.
He warmed up for the British Open in Sandwich by winning the Scottish Open title, finishing a truncated tournament at 19 under after three rounds, but missed the cut at Royal St. George’s the following week.
His fourth title of the year was arguably his most impressive, producing a stunning closing-round 64 – featuring six straight birdies on the back nine – to win the Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals Classic. The victory in the last event on the PGA Tour saw him overtake Webb Simpson to finish at the top of the money list in the United States.
Donald sealed the European Tour’s money list title last week, ahead of McIlroy, by finishing third at the Dubai World Championship.
”The manner in which I came through to win both money lists was, I think, the thing that pleased me the most about the season,” Donald said. ”Going to Florida and winning that tournament when I had to was very important as it gave me the incentive to go on and succeed in Dubai.”