Donald gets emotional as he sits on top of the world

Englishman pays tribute to his father after making history by completing the Transatlantic double

Dubai

Never has a 50-footer across the final green for an eagle and a victory been so overshadowed. Like everyone who understands the vagaries and rigours of professional golf, Alvaro Quiros would have appreciated why Luke Donald was commanding the spotlight. Here was history to hail.

With a weekend's display which will rival the gutsiest ever witnessed on the European Tour, Donald achieved his goal of becoming the first player to win both the US and Europe money-lists in the same season. At last the "Ice Man" cracked, the cool countenance of "Mr Consistency" breaking out into a plume of emotion. When the last putt fell – naturally, a third birdie in as many holes – Donald pointed his two index fingers to the sky. No 1 on both sides.

Surely, the English sporting public at large will acknowledge what it has in this unassuming character from High Wycombe. He may be quiet but, with the clubs in his hand, he has created a deafening din on the fairways. A 66-66 finish, featuring six birdies and no bogeys, was the perfect sign off to the best season of his golfing life.

Of course, in Hollywood they would have gone one step further and pictured him winning the Dubai World Championship. Yet the Donald story doesn't require any jazzing up. This is a tale of a short-hitter beating the odds and confounding expectations through force of talent and application. Donald did not take a single bogey in his last 46 holes to finish third. It's the cold facts which matter for Donald.

Still, there were the tears for the sentimentalists. Donald was asked what his father, Colin, would have said to him, had he not passed away suddenly last month. "He would have given me a hug," Donald said, the ducts inevitably filled up. "My father hopped into my head quite a few times out there. I didn't really look at a leaderboard until the 13th, but didn't see Rory's [McIlroy] name and so knew it was mine."

A few minutes later, he hugged his brother and former caddie, Christian, who told him "thanks for doing this for Dad". The Donald family have so many reasons to be proud, not least the incredible record of this 34-year-old recording 20 top-10 placings in 26 tournaments worldwide. Let them talk about the absence of a major, let them ignore the presence of so many achievements, including five titles in the last 18 months. The debate on the identity of the real world No 1 should cease.

That is Donald's wish and, at the very least, he should be granted it. It will be interesting to see how the British public reacts when it comes to vote on the Sports Personality of the Year in 10 days' time. Many more players will win majors, and you would have to be a fool or biased to believe Donald will not be one of them. But will anyone ever again complete the Transatlantic double? "I'll be trying next year,"Donald said.

If he can maintain this form and display this bottle, it is anything but a forlorn ambition. Donald came to Dubai knowing it would take a top-five position to ensure he collected the £950,000 Race To Dubai bonus. And when McIlroy produced a charge in the first round, the tension took a toll on Donald. But he soaked it up, just as he had at Disney World in Florida on the final day of the US season, when six birdies in the final nine holes secured him the victory he needed. Donald truly has shown he can do it either way.

"I had so many mixed emotions," he said. "This is something I didn't think was possible but it became a possibility midway through the season. It's driven me to work hard and be as successful as I've been. Rory made it tough, but for it actually to happen is almost a weight off my shoulders. History is why we play the game and I'm very proud of it. I got what I came for."

Donald is nothing if not honest and revealed that, despite McIlroy conceding the race on Saturday evening, the butterflies were still doing their damnedest.

"I was still nervous this morning," he said. "Success breeds success and I can feed off knowing that I am able to come up with the shots when the pressure is at its most. I hope it will help me in my quest for a major. That's the one thing missing from my résumé. I've done everything but win one of the big four. I'm excited about 2012."

Quiros cannot wait to return to Dubai. In February, he won the Desert Classic and nine months later showed his fondness for the Emirate. The outrageous snaking putt on the last was a joyous finale for a Spaniard who only stops smiling to giggle. "Obviously I was lucky to hole that long putt," he said. "I love playing in Dubai, the great weather helps a lot. Long hitters like me also have an advantage here. That's why you have to take your hat off to Luke."

There were other notable performances as the Tour wrapped up its season. Paul Lawrie, the 1999 Open champion, birdied the last with a 10-foot putt which was worth £110,000 to the Scot, as it denied Donald a share of second place. Meanwhile, McIlroy's tie for 11th, following a 71-71 weekend, was a commendable effort by a young man clearly suffering from the after-effects of dengue fever and a brutal schedule in which he made his mark.

Next year, the Tour will return to this venue after the announcement yesterday that a new three-year contract has been signed. Donald will be back as well. You can be sure of it.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

How a costume drama became a Sunday night staple
Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers as he pushes Tories on housing

Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers

Labour leader pushes Tories on housing
Aviation history is littered with grand failures - from the the Bristol Brabazon to Concorde - but what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?

Aviation history is littered with grand failures

But what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?
Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of Soviet-style 'iron curtains' right across Europe

Fortress Europe?

Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of 'iron curtains'
Never mind what you're wearing, it's what you're reclining on

Never mind what you're wearing

It's what you're reclining on that matters
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence