JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Luke Donald is the first player to win the money title on the PGA Tour and the European Tour in the same season. He is not the first player to win the most money on both tours in the same year.
The European Tour media guide lists Tiger Woods as the “leading money winner in Europe” six times – 1999, 2000, 2002 and three straight seasons starting in 2005. The Order of Merit was won those years by Colin Montgomerie (’99, ‘05), Lee Westwood (’00), Retief Goosen (’01), Padraig Harrington (’06) and Justin Rose (’07).
This is more than a case of semantics, though.
To be eligible for the money title, a player must be a member of each tour. Membership requires a minimum number of starts. And that requires some juggling of tournaments and a fair amount of travel.
Donald played 25 times this year between the PGA Tour and European Tour, with the majors and World Golf Championships counting toward both tours. Technically, he was credited with 19 starts on the PGA Tour and 13 starts on the European Tour.
Twice this year, Donald played four consecutive weeks while crossing the ocean.
Donald went from Florida (Players Championship) to Spain (World Match Play) to England (BMW PGA Championship) to Ohio (Memorial) in the spring. He went from Chicago (BMW Championship) to Atlanta (Tour Championship) to Scotland (Dunhill Links) to Spain (Madrid Masters) in the fall.
“It’s not easy to be a member of both tours and do what I’ve done,” Donald said Tuesday. “There’s only really a handful of people that do it, so obviously there’s a limited number of people that can do it in any one year. To be the first is very special, and I think it’s probably my greatest achievement this year.”
Woods also had seven events (majors and WGCs) count toward being the “leading money winner.” The closest he came to the minimum events required for membership in Europe – when the minimum used to be 11 tournaments – was in 2006. He played 10 times. Then again, he would have had to apply for membership, and that apparently never interested him.