Accuracy, short game power Donald to historic heights on two major tours

luke donald
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By winning the money titles on both the PGA Tour and European Tour this season, Luke Donald proved that brute force isn't a pre-requisite for success.
PA Sport

Series: European Tour

Published: Monday, December 12, 2011 | 8:10 p.m.

The final event of the European Tour season was won by the man who has been the circuit's biggest hitter for four of the last five years.

But England's Luke Donald, with a driving average of 282 yards that leaves him ranked only 145th and 30 yards behind driving leader Alvaro Quiros, who has dominated the year on the European Tour.

World No. 1, leading money-winner in the United States and now Europe's Order of Merit champion as well, Donald has shown that brute force is not a pre-requisite for success in golf.

Accuracy and a brilliant short game have still to bring the 34-year-old Englishman a major championship and that inevitably is the top target for 2012. But those skills have given him four victories, 20 top-10 finishes in his last 25 events and $13.2 million in prize money.

And Donald, the first man to top the money lists on both sides of the Atlantic, is not done for the year yet.

"I'm sure there are golfers out there that have looked at my success and figured out that you don't need to hit it a hundred miles," said Donald. "Obviously 350 yards off the tee helps -- it's one of Alvaro's biggest strengths -- but there's definitely more to this game.

"I would certainly love to hit it further -- I think it would make life a little easier -- but I've got to stick with what I have and what my talents are," he added. "I think people are taking notice of what I've done and how I've done it and maybe people will maybe change the way they approach practice."

Donald prides himself on working hard, but also believes he has a great team around him -- coach Pat Goss, who has been there since the Ryder Cup star's university days in Chicago, sports psychologist Dave Alred and caddie John McLaren.

The last of that trio has been on the bag since the end of the 2009 season after Donald took the difficult decision not to have brother Christian alongside him on the course any more.

"It was a tough thing to do," he said. "But sometimes change is good. My brother and I did pretty well to last eight years. Everyone who has brothers and sisters, you know it can be tough at times.

"Chris has never had a jealous bone in his body. He's always wanted the best for me, but the relationship on the course was getting a little bit stale and it was as simple as that," Donald explained. "It was affecting our relationship as brothers, and as soon as I mentioned it he knew as well that it was the right thing to do."

Christian, now working for world No. 4 Martin Kaymer, was there to greet Donald after he ended the European season with a third-place finish at the Dubai World Championship.

"He just said, 'Well done and you would have made Dad proud. Well done for doing it for Dad'," Donald said.

The brothers lost their father suddenly little over a month ago and Donald has spoken about how both his parents have suffered from depression. He has two children of his own now, his second daughter being born just after his father's death, and while careers are measured in majors more than anything, he has set his family up for life.

From tournament prize money this year he has banked a total of $9.7 million and he has also earned a $1,981,000 bonus for finishing third in the FedExCup in America and a $1.5 million bonus for winning the European Tour 'Race to Dubai.'

His total of $13,193,900 million, with power to add this week in Australia, is more than Tiger Woods has managed in any year, including 2006 when he won 11 times.

Donald finished 116 under par on the PGA Tour and 90 under par on the European Tour -- and that doesn’t include the two matchplay events, one of which he won and the other in which he was runner-up.

He won the European money list despite playing six fewer events than runner-up Rory McIlroy, and won the American one despite playing seven fewer than runner-up Webb Simpson.

It truly was an amazing double.

In 2012, he wants to give himself the best possible chance going into all four majors. And next up is the Masters at Augusta National in April, where he was fourth this year and third on his debut in 2005.

Donald, who has yet to have a top-10 finish in the U.S. Open, realizes he played too much in the build-up to that event this year and will be addressing that.

It took him six attempts to make the cut in the British Open and he missed another at Sandwich this year, particularly disappointing after winning so well at the Scottish Open the week before, but a fifth-place finish at Turnberry in 2009 shows he can do it on links courses.