When Luke Donald had finally finished 3rd in the Dubai World Championships, so ensuring he created history, and became the first player to officially win the Money Lists in Europe and the US (Tiger unofficially did the same when he wasn’t a member of the European Tour) he looked at the sky, and put a finger in the air, signaling he is number one.
He was, of course, already ranked number one in the world, and has been for the past 30 weeks. It will take a supreme effort by Rory McIlroy (or someone else) to displace him in the near future.
“Being number one brings expectations for everybody and it brings expectations for myself,” he said afterwards. “But I think I have proven quite a few times that I have been able to deal with pretty extreme pressure… I got what I came for and that was to win the Race for Dubai, do the double and create history.”
Donald has grown up a lot this year. Physically, he looks completely different, with impressive biceps and core strength. Mentally, he is no longer fragile, and gone are the days of ‘Luke Donald disease’.
He had a remarkable year, winning four times in 26 tournaments; but it was his consistency, which ultimately was astonishing. In those 26 starts he was in the top-10 an extraordinary 20 times. No one, except Tiger in his prime, has been able to dominate the game like this, in recent times.
“I think I did everything but win a major championship this year,” he said, “so that’s definitely where the focus will be in 2012. I’m not going to be greedy. I would love to win one major championship, but I guess winning the grand slam in one calendar year would be something. No one has ever done it, so I guess that would be the ultimate goal.”
It’s been an emotional year for the world number one. In November, the birth of his second daughter and the death of his father Colin was separated by a mere four days. After he had holed out in Dubai, and after a string of European Tour players had congratulated him, his brother Christian (who caddies for Martin Kaymer) came and gave him a very emotional hug.
“I’m so proud of you for doing that for Dad,” said Christian, who is four year’s Luke’s senior.
Donald plays this week in Australia, before going back to his family in Chicago for Christmas.