Luke Donald might be the first player to win the moneylist on both the PGA and European Tours in the same year, but he is not the first player to win the most money.
Because of a request on Facebook from Gordon Turner, the Mole did some digging and found some interesting things.
The European Tour’s record show one Tiger Woods as Europe’s leading money winner six times – in 1999, 2000, 2002, 2005, 2006 and 2007.
But, because he never played enough events on the European Tour to qualify full membership, the Order of Merit title was won in those years by Colin Montgomerie (1999, 2005), Lee Westwood (2000), Retief Goosen (2001), Padraig Harrington (2006) and Justin Rose (2007).
Incidentally, Tiger won the Order of Merit on the PGA Tour in 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002 and 2005. So if he had bothered to turn up a bit more in Europe in any of those years, he could’ve beaten Donald to this achievement.
To be eligible for a money title, the player must be a full member of that tour. Membership is different for every tour, but generally they all require a minimum number of tournaments to be played in a calendar year.
WGC events and Majors count on both the PGA and European Tours, but a fair amount of travel still needs to be done to qualify as a full member on both tours.
For example, Donald played 25 times this year between the PGA Tour and European Tour and, including the Majors and WGC events, 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 having to fly between Europe, Asia and the USA. It’s definitely not a walk in the park.
"It's not easy to be a member of both tours and do what I've done," Donald said. "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."
The closest Woods ever came to European Tour membership was in the 2006 season when he played 10 times (the minimum for membership back then was still 11 tournaments). But even then he would have had to apply for membership, which is something he has repeatedly indicated he isn’t interested in.
Take nothing away from Donald – as indicated above it is no easy thing to accomplish – but if Tiger had been at all bothered about the honour or the European Tour, he could’ve claimed it years ago.