Donald makes history in Dubai

Luke Donald poses with the Race to Dubai trophy after the final round of the Dubai World...

Luke Donald poses with the Race to Dubai trophy after the final round of the Dubai World Championship on Sunday, Dec. 11, 2011. (REUTERS/Ahmed Jadallah)

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, Last Updated: 9:32 AM ET

DUBAI - Luke Donald's historic year ended in style Sunday with three straight birdies, 46 bogey-free holes and a sterling six-under 66.

Donald didn't win the Dubai World Championship, finishing third at 16-under 272, but he became the first golfer in history to capture the money title on both the European and PGA Tours in the same season.

Alvaro Quiros' second win of 2011 -- he carded a five-under 67 on Sunday to shoot 19-under 266 -- and sixth overall was merely a footnote at Jumeirah Golf Estates, as the world's top player, Donald, put on a dazzling performance to which spectators have grown accustomed throughout the year.

After his final birdie on the 18th green, Donald lifted both arms in triumph and hugged his caddie in celebration. He takes home an additional $1.5 million for winning the Race to Dubai in addition to his 359,832 euro check for the third-place finish.

"(I'm) extremely proud. This is something I've been thinking about for the last half of the season," Donald said. "I got off to a great start, and to be able to win both money tours is something I didn't think was possible."

It's one of the more remarkable seasons in recent memory for any golfer, one that leaves a major title as the lone accomplishment Donald has yet to achieve. He captured the Race to Dubai title by over a million euros after topping Webb Simpson by about $300,000 earlier this year to win the PGA Tour money title.

In 25 worldwide starts this year, Donald posted three victories, 13 top fives and 19 top 10s. He missed only two cuts and placed in the top 11 in all but one of his final 10 tournaments. He captured the No. 1 ranking for the first time with a victory at the European Tour's flagship event, the BMW PGA Championship, and will take that distinction into the 2012 season.

"There's a lot to achieve. The thing about this game is you're always looking for ways to improve and get better," Donald said. "Although I've won a few tournaments, there's still things to achieve. I'd like to pick up a major. It's fun to be number one in the world, and I know there's a lot of great players chasing me, and it'll keep me working hard."

Meanwhile, Quiros made sure he didn't squander a second straight 54-hole lead. After surrendering last week's advantage to Rory McIlroy at the Hong Kong Open, Quiros finished Sunday's round with a 50-foot eagle putt to beat Paul Lawrie by two.

"I was lucky holing the one putt, but it was perfect," Quiros said.

It's the first time Quiros has won twice in a season after winning once in each of the last four years.

The only player that threatened Donald's historic feat was McIlroy, but the U.S. Open champ, who admitted he tired as the season came to a close, never got going on Sunday. He shot a one-under 71 and finished in a tie for 11th at nine-under 279.

As far as Donald was concerned, the drama was withdrawn shortly into his round after a flawless front nine put him at 13-under. With McIlroy's struggles, it was certain Donald would win the Race to Dubai, so the only question became whether he could catch Quiros and Lawrie.

"I didn't see Rory on the leaderboard, and at that point I knew I was cruising a little bit," Donald admitted.

It would have been the ultimate finish, but Donald began Sunday a few too many strokes behind Quiros. Donald played the back nine as he did the first -- three birdies and no bogeys -- but it wasn't quite enough for his fourth win of the year.

Quiros and Lawrie, however, made for a thrilling finish at the season's closing event.

Quiros began the day with a two-shot lead, and the Spaniard was all over the place on the front nine with five birdies and three bogeys. He began with three consecutive birdies and looked to run away with the tournament, but Lawrie shot a five-under 31 on the front nine and caught the leader at 17- under with a birdie at the eighth.

When Quiros bogeyed the ninth, Lawrie took the lead for the first time, and Quiros had to be thinking about last week's demise.

Lawrie isn't McIlroy, however, and the European Tour veteran posted his third straight over-par 12th hole with a bogey to fall into a tie with Quiros at 16- under. At the par-five 14th, Quiros made a seven-foot birdie putt to regain the lead with four holes to play.

"Watching how Paul was playing was something difficult to figure out," Quiros said. "I just wanted to keep going and focus on my own work and see what happens."

Lawrie's best chance to tie came at the island green 17th, where he missed a seven-foot birdie chance that never broke to the left. It wouldn't have mattered, however, as Quiros hit the green in two at the 18th and saved his best shot of the tournament for last.

NOTES: Quiros moved into the world's top 20 with the victory...Donald also receives a 10-year exemption on the European Tour for winning the Race to Dubai...Lawrie posted his first top-five finish since the Iberdrola Open...This was the final event of the 2011 season. The 2012 season gets started the first week in January with the Africa Open, where Louis Oosthuizen is the defending champion...It's the seventh European Tour title of Donald's career.


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