Stats Dont Nearly Tell Lukes Story


Hes a living, breathing example of just how misleading statistics can be. If all you had to go by were a roomful of stats, you would miss just about all of what makes Luke Donald so successful.
Donald won Tiger Woods tournament Sunday. That highlighted a most intriguing year in which Donald was 185th in driving length on tour this year, was 75th in fairways hit, was 83rd in putting ' and still was 17th in earnings with $2,480,562. He finished the year with the second longest consecutive cuts streak of 15.
How does he do it? He finishes tied for second in the Buick Invitational outside San Diego; he finishes tied for second in The Players after leading for three rounds, was tied for third at the Masters, tied for sixth at the WCG-NEC. In Europe, the 28-year-old Englishman tied for fourth at the European Masters, tied for third at the Volvo Masters.
Luke Donald
Luke Donald's bunker game was part of the reason for his success.
So - again - Just how did he do it? Well, an important clue comes from the greens-hit category. In that important statistic, he was 22nd. And when he didnt hit the green but instead landed in a greenside bunker, he was No. 1 in average distance after he exploded out. He averaged being just over seven feet away from the cup in all his sand shots.
And, he was No. 4 in scoring average. So there must have been a little moxie in there, too. He was rarely out of a hole.
And, he finally won on Sunday against one of the years stronger fields. That was eye-opening, even if it were only an exhibition.
I think it's just a nice feeling to know that I came here and beat a very, very strong field, Donald said. Sixteen of the top 20 players in the world were here. There are a few guys outside the top 20, but it was a very, very strong field, and that's a lot of satisfaction, to know that you can come here, play one bad round, even the first round, and still win.
Donald is something of a Renaissance man. A native of Hempstead, England, he went to university at Northwestern in Evanston, Ill., a Chicago suburb. He remained in Chicago after college when just about every other collegiate golfer was moving to sunny climates - though he has just bought a second home in Jupiter, Fla. Donald is an avid painter and majored in art theory and practice at Northwestern. One of his paintings was sold at auction and fetched $1,640.
But on the golf course, he is a get-down-in-the-dirt type of player. He grinds and grinds until he gets close to the top. And on occasion, he goes all the way to the top.
The fact that he hasnt gotten there before last week was getting to be a sore point with him. I've had a lot of tournaments where I've had a chance to win, he said, but I haven't. That was really the only frustrating part, really, just not quite closing the deal when I had a chance to win.

But, you know, I think I'm learning from those, and hopefully next year, once you win a couple times, it makes it a lot easier.
Of course, it didnt make it any easier that he couldnt get over the hump this year. He rose all the way to No. 14 in the world by the time the last world rankings were published, but he still had this nagging little thing to overcome ' he hadnt won. Until last week, that is.

It did bother me, said Donald. I mean, one of my goals was to win this year. You know, I'll definitely take this one. I would have loved to have won a regular tour event, but winning this is just as good.
The one that bothered me the most probably was The Players Championship. I think it was that one that obviously it was a tough final day (he shot 40 on the front side Sunday) with the weather and everything, and a few shots that I hit well ended up costing me. But I still had a good lead playing the final round and didn't win.
But here he is, a winner at last. And dont think those statistics of his are an indication of how he has played this year. He has played quite well, actually, and if last week was an indication, hes going to play better next year.
Email your thoughts to George White