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“And not taking anything away from anything Luke has done, but it’s pretty neat to see an American do that _ finally.”

So much for looking at performance over passport on the PGA Tour.

Then there was Scott Gutschewski, who played with Donald and Simpson in the final round at Disney and witnessed a performance that he described several times simply as “awesome.”

Does this clear up who wins player of the year? Gutschewski suddenly was at a loss for words.

“Is he the best player in the world? Probably,” he said almost begrudgingly. “Playing part-time on the PGA Tour, does he get the player of the year? It’s a good argument. It’s a tough call.”

Just because Donald is English does not make him a part-time player.

The NCAA champion from Northwestern has been a regular in America since 1997. He has two homes, none in England _ one is his primary residence outside Chicago, the other in south Florida. Donald has averaged 20.5 starts a year since his rookie season in 2002. Not even Woods plays that many.

The rookie vote last year also took place after Europe won the Ryder Cup (again). Is that a factor? It shouldn’t be, but with so much attention on the rise of world golf _ particularly European golf _ there has been a noticeable “us against them” mentality among some Americans.

“Obviously when it comes to voting, there’s going to be some leniency toward your friends,” Donald said. “There’s still more American players on the U.S. tour, and I’m sure Rickie has more followers and peers that follow him on the U.S. tour. Again, it’s a vote, so it’s totally subjective.”

Donald was asked if he could make a case for anyone else as player of the year, an awkward question in the immediate aftermath of the most gratifying win of his career.

“Not sure I could at the moment,” he said. “I think I’ve answered everyone’s questions.”

No matter what happens in Shanghai, the lasting image when it comes to player of the year should be Disney.

Except for two majors _ Charl Schwartzel making birdie on his last four holes to win the Masters, McIlroy obliterating the scoring record at the U.S. Open to win by eight _ Donald’s final round at Disney might have been the best performance of the year.

Forget for a moment that Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck presented him the bronze trophy.

It’s a rare occasion in golf when a player knows an opportunity might never come along again, and it’s win or else. Think back to Woods in the 2001 Masters attempting to become the only player to hold all four professional majors.

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