PONTE VEDRA BEACH, FLA. (AP) - The PGA Tour money title is relevant for the first time since 2003 because it has come down to two players _ Webb Simpson and Luke Donald _ in the final tournament of the year at Disney.
But it’s not just about the money.
Simpson had more than just the money title on his mind when he decided to play the McGladrey Classic last week at Sea Island, where missing a 3-foot par putt with his belly putter and losing in a playoff was easy to stomach. The runner-up finish was worth $432,000, and it gave him a $363,029 lead on the money list.
He has two wins this year, as much as anyone else, but no more than five other players. Simpson didn’t win a major, although neither did any of the other player of the year candidates except for Keegan Bradley.
“I still need to do a little something more to get player of the year,” Simpson said at the start of last week. “So I think if I could somehow squeak it out and win the money list, that would just help.”
In a year in which no one has really stood out, it might be just enough.
The PGA Tour player of the year is a vote of the players. The Players Advisory Council nominates the candidates _ it could be one of the longer lists _ and the ballots will be mailed Oct. 25.
Winning the Arnold Palmer Award for leading the PGA Tour money list might mean even more to Donald. He has a chance to become the first player to win the money titles on the PGA Tour and European Tour in the same season. Donald has a comfortable lead in Europe. His prospects suddenly look bleak in America.
Donald also needs to win the money list to bolster his credential as the player of the year.
He has been ranked No. 1 the last five months, and he is there for a reason. No one has played better golf this year. In 23 tournaments, Donald has won three times, had 17 finishes in the top 10 and finished in the top five in nearly half his tournaments.
Trouble is, he has only one win on the PGA Tour. That was at the Match Play Championship in Arizona, with a performance so resounding that Donald never played the 18th hole at Dove Mountain except in a practice round.
Yes, he added Disney to his schedule at the last minute to try to win the money title. But the bigger picture for Donald is to show his peers how badly he wants to be player of the year. Donald most likely will have to win Disney to capture the money list, and that also would give him two PGA Tour wins _ same as Simpson, Bradley, Steve Stricker, Nick Watney, Bubba Watson and Mark Wilson.
Who would have guessed it would be settled in the Fall Series?
Simpson and Donald have emerged as the favorites, so closely linked that if Donald were to win at Disney and Simpson finished second, they would be tied for the points-based player of the year award from the PGA of America.