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Donald tops money list on both sides of ocean

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Donald tops money list on both sides of ocean

From Comcast SportsNet

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. (AP)In what Luke Donald considers his biggest win of the year, Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck presented him the trophy.

Disney featured the weakest field of any event Donald has played this year. Its the final tournament of the PGA Tour season, filled with dozens players well down the money list who were desperate to keep their cards for next year. It hardly compares with his wins at the Match Play Championship in Arizona or Europes flagship event at Wentworth.

Perhaps it was only fitting that after Donald ran off six birdies on the back nine Sunday and closed with an 8-under 64 to win the Childrens Miracle Network Classic, he struggled to hoist the bronze trophy over his head.

Its about a 60-pound trophy, Donald said. I nearly dropped it on the green.

It felt about as heavy as the burden of expectations he placed on himself all week.

Donald knew that his best chance to win the PGA Tour money title, and state a convincing case that he should be voted player of the year, was to win Disney. He had not played at Disney in eight years, and because his caddie was on his honeymoon, Donald had to borrow Gareth Lord from Thomas Bjorn.

He was five shots behind going into the final round, and four shots back at the turn.

And then he left no doubt who was No. 1 in the worldor on the PGA Tour.

Starting with a simple up-and-down from just short of the par-5 10th green, Donald unleashed the kind of golf expected out of the worlds No. 1 player. He dropped a wedge into 8 feet on the 11th, and an 8-iron to 6 feet on the 12th. Then came a lob wedge to 5 feet on the 13thSimpson missed from just outside of himand an 18-foot birdie on the 14th to take his first lead.

Then came one of the most moments when everyone should have knownor at least heardthat there was no stopping him. Donald rolled in a 45-foot birdie putt for his sixth straight birdie, crouching when it fell, slamming his fist in a rare display of emotion, that sent him on his way.

Im thrilled, Donald said. Im over the moon.

Three pars was enough to seal his win, which was memorable for so many reasons.

Simpson, who decided to play at Sea Island last week, took over the lead on the money list by 363,029 when he finished second. Simpson was one shot out of the leadand two ahead of Donaldwhen they made the turn.

By winning, Donald captured the money title with just over 6.68 million 335,861 clear of Simpson, who tied for sixthand kept alive his bid to become the first player to win the money list on the PGA and European tours in the same season. Donald lead in Europe by about 1.8 million with just over a month to go.

Donald wrapped up the Vardon Trophy for the lowest adjusted scoring average.

It was his second win of the year, as many as anyone else. The last player who won the money title, Vardon Trophy and at least tied for most wins on tour without winning the player of the year award was David Duval in 1998. He was beaten that year by Mark OMeara, who won two majors. PGA champion Keegan Bradley is the only player with multiple wins and a major this year.

Donald, who finished at 17-under 271 and earned 846,000, was asked to make a case for someone other than him.

Not sure I could at the moment, he said. I think Ive answered everyones questions. Coming into this week, I felt like Webb was probably the favorite, based on he was ahead of me on the money list and he was ahead of me in wins this year. Obviously, Ive drawn level on wins and Ive gotten ahead on money.

Feels like Ive answered all the questions thrown at me.

Simpson wasnt quite sure.

I dont know yet, said Simpson, who won twice and was No. 2 on the money list and the FedEx Cup. I think Ive played great. Luke has played great. Couple other guys have played well. Still probably up in the air a little bit. But Im sure Ill vote for myself.

Other than Disney, the biggest win for Donald would have been the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth, where he beat Lee Westwood in a playoff to replace him atop the world ranking. Donald has been No. 1 ever since.

Wentworth is far more significant than Disney.

He had to go head-to-head against Westwood, compared with a collection of players in the hunt at Disney, from Justin Leonard to Kevin Chappell to Nick OHern to Billy Mayfair.

But it was the all-or-nothing aspect of the tournament that Donald later summed up on Twitter after he won. Wow! What a day, its nice to come up with the goods when I needed them most. Thats why I play this game.

In a way, there was a little bit more on the line this week, Donald said in his press conference. I felt like if I hadnt won at Wentworth, I felt I was playing well enough that I would have got to No. 1 in the world at some point. Obviously, winning Wentworth was a huge event and it meant a great deal to me.

But I think having this amount on the line this week, and coming up and shooting 30 on the back nine on Sunday, finding the shots when I needed to, really will mean a lot to me and to all the people that I work with.

Leonard finished with eight pars for a 71. He already is exempt for next year, but kept alive his streak of never finishing out of the top 125 on the money list since joining the tour in 1994.

Tom Pernice Jr., a 52-year-old who refuses to give up on playing with guys half his age, closed with a 69 for a three-way tie for third, earning enough money to finish at No. 121 and earn back his PGA Tour card.

Pernice only moved into the top 125 when Nick OHern bogeyed his last hole and fell out of the logjam at third place. On the other side of the Magnolia Course, D.J. Trahan knocked in a 22-foot birdie putt on his last hole at No. 9 the second-toughest hole.

That ultimately enabled Trahan to finish at No. 125 on the money list by 1,431 over Bobby Gates.

I dont know what par would have done, Trahan said. I really, honestly dont know what difference that would have made, but birdie certainly didnt hurt me. So Im thrilled that I made that putt.

Donald, however, stole the show.

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If Kyle Schwarber's back, the rest of the National League will have another reason to worry about the second-half Cubs

If Kyle Schwarber's back, the rest of the National League will have another reason to worry about the second-half Cubs

Kyle Schwarber’s proper introduction to the Cubs-Sox rivalry came in the summer of 2015 when a fan on the South Side threw a half-empty “tall boy” at him in left field. A little more than a year removed from college, Schwarber didn’t understand why someone wouldn’t finish all the beer first.  

David Ross chimed in, raising his voice loud enough so Schwarber and a group of reporters could hear him inside the visiting clubhouse: “You should have shotgunned it and then went over there and found him.

“I tell you what: I’d hate to try to wrap up Kyle Schwarber. I guarantee you that whoever threw that beer doesn’t want (any) part of Kyle Schwarber. I promise you that one.”

That was the rookie orientation before Schwarber: blasted five playoff home runs that October; suffered a devastating knee injury that almost wiped out his entire 2016 season; made a dramatic return to the World Series; and experienced newfound fame and fortune that would change his life forever.

Mess with Schwarber? That aura of invincibility is gone after his detour to Triple-A Iowa before the All-Star break. But the first-place Cubs will take Thursday night’s 6-3 win over the White Sox as another sign that he is almost back, yet another reason why the defending champs look ready to continue this second-half surge. 

“I told him that if he had a couple more push-ups in there, he would have had three homers tonight, but we’ll take a triple,” winning pitcher Jon Lester said afterward. “Schwarber’s been swinging the bat great since he’s been back.”

No doubt, the Cubs caught the sell-mode White Sox at the right time during the final days leading up to the July 31 trade deadline. Even in going 3-for-4 and blasting his 16th and 17th home runs – which traveled 814 feet combined at Guaranteed Rate Field – Schwarber is still only hitting .191 with 90 strikeouts in 79 games this season.     

But the Cubs have always given Schwarber the benefit of the doubt and will point to his big personality and encouraging numbers since his Triple-A reset ended on July 6, getting on base almost 37 percent of the time and hitting safely in 10 of 13 games with five homers, three doubles and that triple.

“Retrospectively, we should not have expected that much,” manager Joe Maddon admitted. “I’m guilty of that kind of a narrative or a dialogue also, because I was really eager to watch him play a full season of Major League Baseball.

“But the guy missed the whole season and did really well in a small window of time at the end of the year. So maybe my expectations exceeded what they should have been.

“I do believe he is that good. I do believe you’re going to come back and see him play at the level we anticipated. But he might have just needed more time. And we just didn’t recognize that.

“I might have been as guilty as anybody regarding the promotion of that. But I believe in him fully. I know it’s going to happen. There’s been some really good major-league hitters that have gone through the same thing.” 

At this point, the Cubs (54-47) would love to see what kind of wrecking ball Schwarber could be for a half-season. To his credit, Schwarber has been the same throughout all the ups and downs, someone who looks and sounds like a guy you would drink tall boys with.

“I just want to worry about putting the barrel on the ball,” Schwarber said. “I’m just trying to stay within myself, be short (with my swing) and it’s paying off.”