- Associated Press - Tuesday, December 13, 2011

JACKSONVILLE, FLA. (AP) - Luke Donald is the first player to win the money title on the PGA Tour and the European Tour in the same season. He is not the first player to win the most money on both tours in the same year.

The European Tour media guide lists Tiger Woods as the “leading money winner in Europe” six times _ 1999, 2000, 2002 and three straight seasons starting in 2005. The Order of Merit was won those years by Colin Montgomerie (‘99, `05), Lee Westwood (‘00), Retief Goosen (‘01), Padraig Harrington (‘06) and Justin Rose (‘07).

This is more than a case of semantics, though.

To be eligible for the money title, a player must be a member of each tour. Membership requires a minimum number of starts. And that requires some juggling of tournaments and a fair amount of travel.

Donald played 25 times this year between the PGA Tour and European Tour, with the majors and World Golf Championships counting toward both tours. Technically, he was credited with 19 starts on the PGA Tour and 13 starts on the European Tour.

Twice this year, Donald played four straight weeks while crossing the ocean.

Donald went from Florida (Players Championship) to Spain (World Match Play) to England (BMW PGA Championship) to Ohio (Memorial) in the spring. He went from Chicago (BMW Championship) to Atlanta (Tour Championship) to Scotland (Dunhill Links) to Spain (Madrid Masters) in the fall.

“It’s not easy to be a member of both tours and do what I’ve done,” Donald said Tuesday. “There’s only really a handful of people that do it, so obviously there’s a limited number of people that can do it in any one year. To be the first is very special, and I think it’s probably my greatest achievement this year.”

Woods also had seven events (majors and WGCs) count toward being the “leading money winner.” The closest he came to the minimum events required for membership in Europe _ when the minimum used to be 11 tournaments _ was in 2006. He played 10 times. Then again, he would have had to apply for membership, and that apparently never interested him.


MARKER MOTIVATION: Tiger Woods has always used a quarter to mark his golf ball on the green, with the coin placed heads up.

But it’s not just any quarter.

During a video Q&A two weeks ago with his fans on Facebook and Twitter, Woods revealed that he uses a 1958 quarter to mark his ball. The significance of that year?

“Because I’ve shot 59, and I’ve never shot 58,” Woods replied. “Each and every day, I use it as an opportunity for me to shoot 58.”

The one round of 59 that Woods has mentioned previously came at Isleworth a week before he won the 1997 Masters by 12 shots for his first green jacket.

By the way, Woods said he also has a 1957 quarter at home “in waiting.”


BO KNOWS THREE-PUTTS: Just like every year, Bo Van Pelt is looking for areas where he can improve. This year, it was fairly easy to figure out once he looked at some of his statistics.

Van Pelt was No. 172 out of 186 players in avoiding three-putts. He had 65 three-putts in the 92 rounds he played on the PGA Tour. He spoke about this deficiency after the second round of the Chevron World Challenge, where he already had six three-putts for the week.

“My three-putt avoidance is horrible,” Van Pelt said. “For how well I played the last two years, it’s kind of shocking.”

It’s even more surprising considering that Van Pelt has risen to No. 27 in the world, which makes him a lock for the majors and at least the first few World Golf Championships.

“When I can avoid it … in Malaysia, I didn’t have one three-putt in four days and I won,” Van Pelt said. “So obviously, I was able to identify an area I need to improve.”

Van Pelt knew he was wasting shots. Still, it was stunning to see the raw numbers.

“When you sit down and look at it, that’s pretty pathetic,” he said. “To me, it’s a practice thing. I end up putting the long putts good, but then I’ll three-putt from 20 feet. It’s a speed thing. It’s an area where I know I can save shots.”


NO HOPE: The Humana Challenge is going through some big changes. The tournament long known as the Bob Hope Classic is increasing its field from 124 to 144 players. There will be two amateurs in each group instead of one pro and three amateurs. And it will be a 72-hole tournament over three courses, instead of a five-day event over four courses.

Gone from the rotation is Silver Rock, which wasn’t a favorite among most players. The exception was Gary Woodland, who lost in a playoff to Jhonattan Vegas, and doesn’t plan to return.

“The Bob Hope was nice, but they took out the golf course I killed the last two years I played there,” Woodland said. “Now it’s more like a putting contest. Silver Rock was the one golf course I could separate myself on, and they took it out. So I’m not going to go.”

It’s part of several schedule changes for Woodland, who was 17th on the money list last year. He’ll be going to Riviera, the Match Play Championship and Doral for the first time. And he plans to take off the week before every major to prepare on those courses.

Of all the new stops, the one that gets him excited is the Cadillac Championship at Doral.

“We used to go there on vacation,” he said. “I’ve played Doral a bunch.”

And while Woodland was long even as a teenager, the Blue Monster felt like one to him back then.


DIVOTS: The LPGA Tour has selected Vicki Goetze-Ackerman as player president. Goetze-Ackerman played 18 seasons on the LPGA, and while she never won, she received the William and Mousie Powell Award in 2006, given to a player whose behavior and deeds best exemplifies the spirit, ideals and values of the tour. She also was president of the LPGA player executive committee in 2007. … AT&T chairman Randall Stephenson has been appointed to the PGA Tour policy board effective in January. … With less than three weeks left in the year, the LPGA Tour, Champions Tour and Nationwide Tour still have not released their 2012 schedules. … Of the top 30 players on the PGA Tour money list, Charles Howell III was the only player with at least 30 starts. He finished at No. 25.


STAT OF THE WEEK: Jason Day (No. 8) and Matt Kuchar (No. 10) are the only players among the top 10 in the world ranking who failed to win a tournament this year.


FINAL WORD: “The only reason I’m top points scorer is because I’ve played all the Solheim Cups, and I’m the only one that’s done that. So if I hadn’t got the most points, then it would be embarrassing.” _ Laura Davies.

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