PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. -- Catching his breath after a trip nearly halfway around the world to compete in Abu Dhabi, Luke Donald returned to his winter home Tuesday to a reception at PGA of America Headquarters, where he received two carryover awards from a banner 2011 season.
The world's No. 1-ranked player, Donald spends his winters in Palm Beach Gardens, and was honored by PGA staff as he picked up his first PGA of America Player of the Year Award and Vardon Trophy. Donald captured both awards last season, becoming the first native of England to win both in the same year. He is just the second Briton to earn the Vardon Trophy, based upon lowest adjusted scoring average and first presented to "Lighthorse" Harry Cooper in 1937.
The PGA Player of the Year, first presented in 1948, was last presented to a native Briton in 1990 when Nick Faldo earned the honor.
"It means everything, that's why we play the game, to try and write history and to try and get our names on trophies," said Donald, who won two PGA Tour events in 2011 and won the money title on the PGA and European Tours. "To be mentioned among the names of the great champions that have won before, it inspires me to keep working hard and to hear those great champions, it is truly an honor."
Donald splits his year by living in Evanston, Ill., where he graduated in 2001 from Northwestern University. His alma mater is not far from Medinah (Ill.) Country Club, the site of the 39th Ryder Cup, Sept. 28-30.
"Medinah is about 30 minutes from my home, and I have played it (No. 3 Course) a few times, but not for about a year and half," said Donald. "They have made a few changes recently. It will be a great event at Medinah. The Ryder Cup is the most special event I have ever played. I've always enjoyed match play, fortunate to have had a good record as an amateur in the Walker Cup. When you do well in those competitions, it gives you a lot of confidence."
Though he holds the top world ranking, Donald is asked what has kept him from achieving a professional's ultimate career goal - winning a major championship.
"It's hard to answer, my game is good enough to win a major," said Donald. "My driving has held me back and you have to be driving it well during a major championship. If I can sharpen up a little bit, I feel I can compete well."
When he was a youth, Donald admired a European wave of talent that was headed by Faldo and the late Seve Ballesteros. He said that the current European young talent, of which he is a member, "runs in cycles."
"Certainly, things are going well for European golf now," said Donald. "There are many fine players and they are holding their own everywhere. Are there more on the horizon? I'm sure there are."
Donald's reception included his answering questions regarding his personal life, choices in local restaurants and sports idols.
"The time I have away from the course, I am with my family, and to have two daughters who greet you with a smile when you get up in the morning, means everything," said Donald. "Having two daughters, I believe, has given my life a lot more balance."
The PGA Player of the Year and Vardon Trophy
The PGA of America has honored the game's best players with The PGA Player of the Year Award since 1948. The award is presented to the top touring professional based on a point system for tournament wins, official money standings, and scoring averages. Points for the 2012 award are tabulated from Jan. 1, through the Children's Miracle Network Hospitals Classic, which conclude Nov. 11.
The PGA Tour also recognizes its annual Player of the Year, with the winner determined by a vote of the membership. The voting period commences after the conclusion of the Children's Miracle Network Hospitals Classic. The Player of the Year, who receives the Jack Nicklaus Trophy, will be announced by the Tour in December. Additionally, the Tour recognizes a Rookie of the Year and in select years, a Comeback Player of the Year, with both of those awards also being determined by a vote among Tour members. Other season-ending honors to be announced by the PGA Tour include the Arnold Palmer Award for the leading money-winner and the Byron Nelson Award, presented to the player with the lowest adjusted scoring average (minimum of 50 official rounds).
Since 1937, the Vardon Trophy, named by The PGA of America in honor of famed British golfer Harry Vardon, is awarded annually to the touring professional with the lowest adjusted scoring average. It is based on a minimum of 60 rounds, with no incomplete rounds, in events co-sponsored or designated by the PGA Tour. The adjusted score is computed from the average score of the field at each event.
About The PGA of America
Since its founding in 1916, The PGA of America has maintained a twofold mission: to establish and elevate the standards of the profession and to grow interest and participation in the game of golf. By establishing and elevating the standards of the golf profession through world-class education, career services, marketing and research programs, The PGA enables its professionals to maximize their performance in their respective career paths and showcases them as experts in the game and in the multi-billion dollar golf industry. By creating and delivering world-class championships and innovative programs, The PGA of America elevates the public's interest in the game, the desire to play more golf, and ensures accessibility to the game for everyone, everywhere. As The PGA nears its centennial, the PGA brand represents the very best in golf.