Donald not ducking controversy

Luke Donald is not hiding his frustration that player of the year ballots aren't going out until...

Luke Donald is not hiding his frustration that player of the year ballots aren't going out until after the HSBC Champions event in Shanghai. (Richard Lam/QMI Agency/Files)

TIM MCKAY, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 11:29 AM ET

Luke Donald has every right to be ticked off that the PGA Tour has decided to delay its player-of-the-year balloting by two weeks, but he had better watch what he is saying.

In a showdown for the money title with Webb Simpson at the Children's Miracle Network Hospitals Classic last week, most observers felt the PGA Tour player-of-the-year honour also was on the line. And Donald's dramatic Sunday win -- reeling off six consecutive birdies on the back nine to pass Simpson and the rest of the field -- seemed to all but secure the peer-voted Jack Nicklaus Trophy.

Traditionally, the PGA Tour has mailed out the ballots this week, but in a surprise and somewhat baffling about-face, it has decided to hold off two weeks until after the HSBC Champions in Shanghai. This WGC event counts as a PGA Tour event, but not for official money.

Donald, whose competition for the player-of-the-year award is Simpson and Keegan Bradley (the only one of the three to win a major), understandably is miffed, but his willingness to say so may hurt him in what, ultimately, comes down to a popularity contest.

"I think the decision to add HSBC is sketchy at best," Donald said on Golf Channel's Morning Drive on Tuesday. "Why change the rule the day after Disney? It really doesn't make sense to me."

The fact is, he's right. The decision seems arbitrary at best, but his whining about it won't curry favour among his peers.

There already are conspiracy theories being floated about why the Brit could be snubbed for the award -- the predominantly American Tour wants to see an American win, Simpson is just more well-liked, etc. -- so Donald shouldn't be too outspoken.

Donald, who won the PGA of America player-of-the-year award on Monday, can take heart knowing that the winner of that award has also won the PGA Tour award every year since 1991.

When asked the almost unfair question immediately after his win at Disney how he would make a case for any other player to win player of the year, Donald stated: " Not sure I could at the moment.

"Obviously I've drawn level on wins and I've gotten ahead on money. I feel like I've answered all the questions thrown at me."

You have, now just shut up. If you don't win, then it's time to put up a fuss. No one likes a sore winner.

THE TIMMY AWARDS

As this is the last column before its winter hiatus, maybe it's appropriate to hand out a few honours of our own. Here goes:

MALE PLAYER OF THE YEAR

Luke Donald won the PGA Tour money title and likely will win the European Tour's as well, so there's really not much discussion here. He would be the first person to, officially, win the money title on both major tours ( Tiger Woods would have done it several times but wasn't a Euro Tour member). Others won majors, but Donald was consistent for the entire year.

FEMALE PLAYER OF THE YEAR

Yani Tseng, hands down. At 22, Tseng became the youngest person, male or female, to win five majors when she won the women's British Open in July, just one of her seven LPGA Tour victories in 2011.

SHOT OF THE YEAR

The water hadn't even stopped rippling when Bill Haas had this category wrapped up.

His shot on the 17th at East Lake in the Tour Championship in a playoff with Hunter Mahan was as clutch as it comes, keeping him in the hunt for the tournament and the $10-million FedExCup, both of which he went on to win because of The Shot. Putting the ball three feet from the pin from the water is impressive on its own, moreso considering what was at stake.

BEST MAJOR

It's tough to beat Sunday at the Masters, but this year's was even more special as several players -- Tiger Woods included -- had an opportunity to win.

Eight players held a share of the lead at some point during the final round, including Rory McIlroy, whose collapse will be just as memorable as Charl Schwartzel's amazing finish, in which he birdied the final four holes to claim victory.

BEST CANADIAN

There was a lot of promise heading into 2011 with six Canadians playing on the PGA Tour, but David Hearn was the only one able to stay inside the top-125 on the money list.

His campaign wasn't without drama, he was money in the homestretch, the Fall Series, and was able to comfortably able to lock down his full playing privileges for 2012.

He made 19 of 26 cuts, had a career-best tie for fifth at the Justin Timberlake Shriners Hospitals Open and two other top-10s. He finished 104th on the money list.

BEST CANADIAN STORY

Adam Hadwin's play on the PGA Tour this season reminds us of Bill Murray's famous line from Caddyshack: "Cinderella story, out of nowhere..."

The 23-year-old from Abbotsford, B.C., followed up stellar performance at the U.S. Open in June with what almost was a real Cinderella story when he captured his country's attention at the Canadian Open. Hadwin was in the hunt before finishing tied for fourth.

In just five events on the PGA Tour, the Canadian Tour pro earned over $440,000 and while it wasn't enough to earn him playing privileges on the PGA Tour for 2012, he did get to skip the first round of qualifying school.

STORIES OF THE YEAR

IRISH EYES A SMILIN'

What a year for golf in Northern Ireland. already beaming from its native son Graeme McDowell's 2010 major victory at the u.s. Open at Pebble beach, the country celebrated a repeat when young Rory McIlroy lapped the field at congressional.

Then, in a moment that no one saw coming, save for maybe his manager Chubby Chandler, the likable Darren Clarke won the british Open, celebrating with many pints of Guinness stout.

BELLY FLAP

Keegan Bradley used a belly putter to win a major, and a bunch of other guys (at least eight, depending on your definition of belly putter or long putter) also won events with the club that used to be designated for senior tour players.

Some of the game's purists are not happy, claiming it's an unfair advantage, but Ernie Els summed it up best to the associated Press: "as long as it's legal, I'll keep cheating like the rest of them."

TIGER WHO?

Tiger Woods' comeback was derailed by the pine needles at augusta and he played sparingly with lacklustre results throughout the season, before being selected as a captain's pick for the Presidents cup.

Love him or hate him, whether he's good or bad, all the talk's about Tiger.


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