Golf: Donald first to win PGA, European money titles
Published 12:00 am Sunday, December 11, 2011
DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — Luke Donald became the first golfer to win both the PGA Tour and European Tour money titles, finishing third in the Dubai World Championship on Sunday behind winner Alvaro Quiros.
Quiros made a 40-foot eagle putt on the 18th hole for a two-shot victory over 1999 British Open champion Paul Lawrie.
The top-ranked Donald, who won the PGA title earlier this year, had to finish better than ninth or hope Rory McIlroy didn’t win the tournament. McIlroy, weakened with a virus all week, tied for 11th at 9-under 279. That left McIlroy more than $1.34 million behind Donald in the money race.
“It’s funny to kind of sum up my feelings” said Donald, who has just come back from five weeks off in which he buried his father and was on hand for the birth of his second child.
“You know, this is something I’ve wanted for the past few months, to try and win both money lists,” Donald said. “It’s very strange because I looked at the leaderboard on 13 and couldn’t see Rory. I couldn’t see Rory’s name on there and the leaders were playing well, and at that point, I kind of knew I had made history and the last six holes were kind of surreal.”
Quiros had a final-round 5-under 67 on the Earth Course at Jumeirah Golf Estates to finish at 269. Donald was three shots behind Quiros after he ran off three birdies in a row for a 6-under 66. Peter Hanson of Sweden was fourth, another two shots back, and Masters champion Charl Schwartzel was in fifth another shot behind.
The big-hitting Quiros came into the final day with a two-shot lead but squandered it after he had three bogeys on the front nine to go with five birdies. Lawrie, who led after the first day, took the lead after he notched five birdies in his first eight holes.
But Lawrie bogeyed the 12th after an approach shot missed the green and Quiros birdied the 14th to take the lead for good. Lawrie’s short game continued to haunt him when an errant chip on 16 cost him a birdie chance. Then, the 42-year-old Lawrie missed a 6-foot birdie putt at the 17th that would have tied it.
Quiros managed to reach the 18th green in two while Lawrie was there in three. Rather than play it safe, Quiros clinched the win with a long eagle putt. The Spaniard pumped his fist as the crowd cheered. The win was just Quiros’ second this year on the tour — after the Dubai Desert Classic — and sixth overall on the tour.
It was a much happier ending than a week ago, when Quiros had a 3-shot lead going into the final round of the Hong Kong Open. He let it slip after erratic drives and poor putting, finishing in a tie for seventh — five shots behind McIlroy, who holed a greenside bunker shot to win.
Quiros praised the rivalry that developed over the final round with Lawrie, who ended a nine-year drought earlier this year with a victory in Spain.
“I was hitting good shots all day but, as I said, Paul was marvelous,” he said. “He was holing every single putt. He was in contention every single time. I think he was just one or two times in trouble and the second one was on 12. From this moment onwards, it changed the situation completely.”
Quiros said he felt he had the advantage coming into the par 5, 18th. But even with the one-shot lead, the 28-year-old Spaniard said he never considered laying up because Lawrie was putting so well and Donald had moved into contention with a string of birdies down the stretch. He also was worried about his slim lead, after Lawrie’s approach shot came down within 12-foot of the cup. Lawrie eventually sank it for a birdie.
“I heard the people’s roars after Luke holed a good putt on 17 and 18 and obviously Paul just was one shot behind me,” Quiros said. “He (Lawrie) hit a good shot and the way he was putting all day, I thought, you know, the putt that he has is very … makable. I was looking to give myself a chance, a meter-and-a half around the hole … And then the putt was simple as, perfect, genius.”
Lawrie refused to dwell on his mistakes, insisting he had done everything to win. Rather than talk about any one hole Sunday, he alluded to Friday where he drove the ball poorly on the way to a 1-over 73 which cost him the first-round lead.
“I think anybody would tell you they are disappointed not to win,” Lawrie said. “I probably did enough to have a chance coming down the 18th and that’s all you can do. Alvaro, he’s got at least 250 yards uphill into the wind on 18 with a 3-wood off a hanging lie. Any time you make a three off that lie, he’s a worthy winner.”
Despite finishing second, the 42-year-old Lawrie said his performance has given him hope that he still a future on the tour and possibly a few more victories.
“I worked very hard last winter and hit a lot of balls and put a lot of time in,” he said. “I knew I was 42 and time is running out a wee bit. So if you are going have another go at it, you might as well go now. So nice to be in there and thereabouts have a chance to win tournaments again.”