Luke Donald made history last night when becoming the first European player to win the American money list. With a remarkable final-round 64 to lift the Hospitals Classic in Florida, the Englishman confirmed, beyond any doubt, who is the No 1.
Certainly every golfing No 1, no matter which vintage or denomination, would have been proud of the manner in which Donald, the game's top-ranked professional, lifted his fourth title of the season. Seemingly out of contention at the turn, Donald reeled off six birdies in succession from the 10th to record a 17-under title and finish two clear of Justin Leonard.
Not that Donald should have needed any vindication but after only entering this event last week, he ensured his standing as the game's best anyway. "I've answered a lot of critics," said the 33-year-old. "Coming here, knowing I had to win and coming up with the goods when I needed to do; that's very, very satisfying."
Donald was obliged to fill in his application form after Webb Simpson had dared overtake him with a second-place finish last week. With his wife, Diane, expecting their second child next month and despite suffering from a virus and needing at least to end the week in the top two to leapfrog the American, Donald somehow managed to rise to the challenge and gobble up the £229,000 deficit. To think he was five shots behind the lead and in 14th place at the beginning of the final round on a course which is far from straightforward – incredible.
His 10-birdied magnificence was the day's lowest score and, it must be said, if Donald ever produces a finer round it will represent the very pinnacle of this under-rated sporting superstar. "After the eighth hole it wasn't looking good – I was only two-under for the day and nowhere near contention," said Donald, after winning his first strokeplay crown on America soil in five years. "I thought about it and realised I hadn't gone on a birdie run all week. Suddenly I produced it. It means a lot to do it when I had to."
Donald, who didn't even have his regular caddie at the Disney course due to the marriage of John McClaren, is now huge odds-on to make further history. Nobody before has ever won the American and European money lists, but with more than a £1m lead over Rory McIlroy on his home tour, that seems nothing more than a formality.