Somewhat remarkably, should world No. 1 Luke Donald finish in the first two places at this week’s final U.S. PGA Tour event, the Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals Classic, the Englishman's hopes of becoming the first golfer in history to top the money lists on both sides of the Atlantic will receive a huge boost.
Current leader on the U.S. list, Webb Simpson, moved $363,000 clear of Donald last week after finishing runner-up in the penultimate event, the McGladrey Classic, but victory at Lake Buena Vista would put Donald in front once again.
Across the Atlantic, Donald is over $1.8 million clear of second-place Rory McIlroy on the European list, known now as the "Race to Dubai," and although the European season still has several weeks to go, he is in an almost impregnable position.
It would be a major shock should McIlroy or any other player overhaul him.
With a shot at re-writing the history books, there is no doubt that the 33-year-old Englishman will go all out to win at the Disneyland resort this weekend, capping off what has been a remarkable season.
Donald has been a revelation in 2011, and although there has been no "Major" win, his consistency defies the usual laws of tournament golf. He has played 23 events, winning three, achieving 14 Top-10 finishes, three Top-20 finishes, a tie for 45th in the US Open and two missed cuts.
He has been No. 1 in the rankings since May and is almost certain to be there at the year’s end. His performances almost demand that he achieves the incredible feat of topping the money list of two tours.
Simpson is quite rightly the favorite to beat Donald in the U.S. list. He's been in good form of late, although he could have widened the gap between himself and Donald had he won the playoff at last week’s McGladrey Classic, which was won by Ben Crane.
The performances of the Wake Forest Alum have almost been as remarkable as Donald’s. It is only the 26-year-old's third year on the tour, and he has climbed to No. 12 in the world rankings after winning twice and finishing runner-up three times during the year.
Those two wins came in his last six events, which suggests he will go into the final tournament confident of hanging on to the top spot in the money list, especially on a course where he finished in a tie for fourth place 12 months ago.
Here's what must happen for Donald to overhaul Simpson in this final tournament:
If Donald wins, then Simpson must finish worse than solo second.
If Donald finishes solo second, then Simpson must finish worse than solo eighth place.
If Donald ties for second place, then it becomes complicated and will depend on how many are tied.
Becoming the first player to ever top the money lists on both sides of the Atlantic is within Donald's reach. He simply must win the Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals Classic—for which the oddsmakers in Vegas and the U.K. make him the favorite—and hope Simpson doesn't finish solo second.