Luke Donald cashes in on golf’s Moneyball

Luke Donald nails down PGA Tour money title with win at Disney (Photo: Wikipedia)

Moneyball may be all the rage at the box office, but golf’s No. 1 and heavy favorite as PGA Tour player of the year Luke Donald turned golf’s equivalent of the sabremetricians’ baseball theory on its head Sunday with his dazzling, come-from-behind win at Disney.
“A golfer without a world-class long game simply can’t be world class,” according to an article in Slate last year about “a Moneyball-type revolution [that awaited] golf.”
Tell that to Donald, who ran off six straight birdies to start his back nine and rebounded from five strokes back to finish the week T8 in putts per round and first in putts per green, but a middle-of-the-pack 40th in driving distance. For his troubles, the 33-year-old Englishman locked up the PGA Tour money title and lowest scoring average, bolted ahead of week-long playing partner Webb Simpson and PGA champ Keegan Bradley in PoY odds, and will likely become the first golfer to grab the most cash on both the PGA and European Tours.
Not a bad week’s work for someone who decided to enter the Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals Classic at the last minute just for the opportunity to make top dollar. Indeed, with 1.3 million Euros separating Donald from Rory McIlroy for the money prize on the Euro Tour, Donald said he might also play another tourney across the pond to protect his lead.
“I would probably put it in the unlikely right now, but who knows,” Donald told reporters after firing a final-round 8-under 64 for a 17-under finish and two-shot win over Justin Leonard. “It would mean a big deal to win both money lists….we’ll have to see. Right now, my schedule is pretty firm.”
And if it’s stats that count, voters for player of the year may want to consider this one: Donald’s second victory of the season tied him with Simpson, Bradley, and a few other PoY contenders who are members of the 2 Club. That, plus the money title, Donald said, should be enough to capture best-player honors.
“Obviously coming into this week I felt like Webb was probably favorite, you know, based on he was ahead of me on the money list and he was ahead [in] wins this year,” said Donald. “Obviously drawn level on wins and I’ve gotten ahead on money. Feel like I’ve answered all the questions thrown at me.”

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