Showdown at Disney World

Webb Simpson hits off the secnod tee at East Lake Country Club during round three of the Tour...

Webb Simpson hits off the secnod tee at East Lake Country Club during round three of the Tour Championship in Atlanta, Ga., Sep. 24, 2011. (JOHN AMIS/Reuters)

TIM McKAY, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:39 PM ET

Just when you thought the PGA Tour’s player-of-the-year award was Mickey Mouse, it looks like a trip to Disney World might just decide it.

Webb Simpson and Luke Donald not only are battling it out for the money-list victory (Arnold Palmer Award) and its five-year PGA Tour exemption this week at the Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals Classic in Lake Buena Vista, Fla., the Jack Nicklaus Trophy for the peer-voted player-of-the-year honours may also be on the line.

Simpson vaulted past world No. 1 Donald with a second-place finish at last week’s McGladrey Classic. Simpson now has $6,200,243 US for the season, $363,029 ahead of Donald. But Donald, who is trying to become the first player in history to win the money title on both the PGA Tour and the European Tour, won’t go down without a fight.

And it should be excellent drama as the tour has paired Simpson and Donald together for the first two rounds, with Donald needing no less than a tie for second (with Simpson tied for 21st or worse). If the Englishman wins, the American would need solo second to hang onto the money title. If Donald finishes solo second, Simpson would have to finish solo eighth or better.

Donald has played in 18 events on the PGA Tour with one victory, but it’s his consistency that is amazing. He had two second-place finishes, two thirds, and 15 top-10s.

Simpson has played in more events and has one more win, but he also has two playoff losses (going to one playoff because he had called a penalty stroke on himself) and another second-place.

“It’s a tricky one, player of the year,” Donald told the PGA Tour on Wednesday. “It’s a total player vote.

“I guess I’m trying to toot my own horn a little bit, but the domination in the world rankings and how many points I’ve earned this year — obviously I’ve won three times around the world, only once in the U.S. But hopefully these are things that will be considered. It would be an honor to be voted Player of the Year.”

Simpson is cool either way.

“My caddie and I have gone back and forth talking. Would you rather win player of the year or the money list title? You know, I don’t know which one is more important to me, but I know they’re all great.”

But it doesn’t look as if it’s an either/or thing. Win one, you win the other.

You have to throw Keegan Bradley in the player-of-the-year discussion, too. He already has most-slighted-player wrapped up.

Bradley added to his stellar season Wednesday, winning the PGA Grand Slam of Golf in Bermuda, beating the year’s reigning major champions (Charl Schwartzel, Rory McIlroy and Darren Clarke) to claim the $600,000 first-prize in the exhibition.

Bradley had two wins and is the only American to win a major (PGA Championship) in the past two years and those typically have carried more weight in player-of-the-year voting.

Fred Couples already has come under fire for not picking Bradley for the U.S. Presidents Cup squad and this week International captain Greg Norman said he would have taken the young American over Tiger Woods or Bill Haas.

Could he get the sympathy pick for player-of-the-year?

SAY CHEESE!

Here’s an obscure trivia question for you: Who won the $1-million Kodak Challenge last year?

Answer: Who cares?

Actually, it was Troy Merritt in a sudden-death playoff over Rickie Fowler and Aaron Baddeley. But don’t worry if you didn’t know, we had to look it up on the PGA Tour website’s Kodak Challenge page, which we didn’t know existed either.

This year, Bill Lunde leads going into the final event with Cameron Tringale needing an eagle to tie on the 485-yard par-4 17th at Disney’s Magnolia Course where, according to the PGA Tour, only two eagles have been made since 1998.

A word of advice to Lunde should he secure the $1-million prize: Cash the cheque in a hurry. Who knows if the challenge will be around with its sponsor’s stock going south after bankruptcy rumours this fall?

McQUILLAN’S TURN

With Adam Hadwin’s unlikely run to playing privileges on the PGA Tour done after he finished last among those who made the cut at the McGladrey last week, the focus shifts squarely to Kingston’s Matt McQuillan.

McQuillan sits at 132 on the money list $62,902 behind bubble boy James Driscoll, meaning he needs a great finish this week to maintain full playing privileges on Tour. A top-10 would do the trick.

Stephen Ames, who is 136th on the money list but exempt for next season, would like to move up anyway and Disney just might be his place to do it. Ames is a two-time winner there (2007 and 2009) and he hopes to find some pixie dust again.

‘A LOT AT STAKE’

It also will be an important week for Canadians Alena Sharp and Lorie Kane at the Sunrise LPGA Taiwain Championship.

Sharp sits at 78th on the money list with the top 80 women earning priority-1 status on the LPGA Tour, while veteran Kane is just outside that number at 88th.

“There’s a lot at stake this week as this could, possibly, be my last event of the season,” Sharp said on her CBC.ca blog.

“The top three players yet to qualify for our season-ending CME Titleholders, will qualify this week. It would be a nice bonus to qualify.

Also, remaining in the top 80 means priority-1 status, plus the top 70 receive an exemption into next year’s U.S. Women’s Open.

“These are all distractions, though. My focus is to take it one day at a time and, if I happen to qualify for all of these, that’s great. If not, it isn’t the end of the world.”


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