I’m one of these guys that places big hardware over how much money is stuffed into a golf bag.
Meaning? I judge a player’s greatness not on how many money titles he wins, or even how many Texas Valero Opens he captures. For me, it’s about Majors and that means the four big events of the year, the Masters, U.S. Open, British Open (or, ahem, The Open Championship) and the PGA Championship. Win one of those and you are a PLAYER in my eyes.
I look at it this way. Not too many pundits are ever going to say Andy North was one of the game’s greats, even though he’s one of the nicest people I have ever met. But he won two U.S. Opens! That’s big in my book and every time I think of North I think of those two Opens. You win one Open and you’re a made man. Win two in my book and you’ve done something special, even if, like North, you win only one other title on the PGA Tour.
So, I’m out of character when I say I’m so impressed by what Luke Donald did this year. No, he didn’t win a Major. Indeed, he hasn’t won one in his career, which I think changes in 2012. He’s too good of a ball striker and short game player not to grab at least one or two of the big ones during a career that is still in its prime.
But Donald did something that has never been done before and that gets me excited: He won the money titles on both the U.S. and European tours. Nope, never been done before in the same calendar year. Greg Norman did it but his titles came in different years. For Donald to win both in the same year is quite impressive, a “major” feat if you will.
His accomplishment was aided by the fact that winnings from a number of tournaments, such as the World Golf Championship events and the Majors, count on both tours. But you’ve still got to perform consistently well throughout the season whenever you tee it up, whether it is in Augusta or Dubai and Donald did just that this year.
I love what Luke Donald did. I’m still not ready to call him a great player because he needs that Major. I hope not having one doesn’t start to get to him like it has other fine European players, such as Colin Montgomerie and Lee Westwood. I can’t figure out how both of those studs never captured a Major title with all the talent they possessed and possess. Westwood’s still got a chance. Maybe he’ll pull a Darren Clarke and win one later in his career. But Westie needs a big title to lay claim as being one of the great players of the last two decades.
What Luke Donald did this year could springboard him to a fabulous 2012. That means not only being the number one player in the world according to some computer and having enough money to buy his own 747, but also collecting one of those beautiful trophies they give to the winners of the four Majors to put on his mantle.