These are not the best of times for Luke Donald even though his last tournament round was a great one – a 67 to conclude the Deutsche Bank Championship on Monday in Boston.
“A nice round but a disappointing season on the PGA Tour,’’ the former Northwestern star and former world No. 1 said via Twitter. “Have never worked harder, so hopefully that was a glimpse of things to come.’’
Unfortunately, the hot round was only good enough for a tie for 57th place in the second of the four FedEx Cup Playoff events, and that wasn’t all. After the second of the four $8 million tournaments Donald stood 89th in the FedEx Cup standings. Only the top 70 are eligible to play in the third event – the BMW Championship, which tees off Thursday at Cherry Hills in Denver.
That meant Donald will miss out on a great financial opportunity and things got worse for Donald on Tuesday. Paul McGinley, captain of the European Ryder Cup team, bypassed Donald in making his three roster picks for the upcoming matches at Gleneagles in Scotland. McGinley went for Ian Poulter, Lee Westwood and Stephen Gallacher instead. In so doing, he passed on Donald who had played on four straight winning Ryder Cup teams.
Not only had he been on the Europeans’ roster but Donald also had been one of its stars. He won 70 percent of the points available in his matches, the last of which were played at Medinah two years ago. Of those who have played in at least 15 Ryder Cup matches only Poulter (80 percent) and Arnold Palmer (71.9 percent) have done better than Donald.
Despite his solid Ryder Cup record and the fact that he had publically pushed for McGinley’s selection as European captain, Donald knew he was on the bubble before McGinley made his roster decisions. His game has not been sharp, as evidenced by only one top 35 finish in his last nine starts.
“I told Paul last week that I felt my game was pretty close,’’ Donald told British media members prior to Tuesday’s announcement. “It seems like I’ve been in a bit of a mental rut and not been able to get any momentum going.’’
McGinley was also Donald’s partner in his first Ryder Cup match in 2006, but that didn’t prevent Donald from getting the bad news.
“He wasn’t expecting it. He was very, very disappointed – and rightly so,’’ McGinley said. “That was a very difficult conversation.’’
Missing the last two FedEx events will be difficult, too. The BMW Championship was played at Conway Farms in Lake Forest — Donald’s home course – last year and will return there in 2015. The Western Golf Assn., which conducts the event to raise funds for its Evans Scholars Foundation, has opted to play the tournament away from Chicago every other year. That’s why it’s in Denver this time.
Last year’s event at Conway was won by Zach Johnson, but the week’s highlight was a 59 by Jim Furyk. Both are in the field at Cherry Hills. So is Wheaton’s Kevin Streelman, who is No. 38 in the FedEx standings after finishing in a tie for 26th at the Deutsche Bank Championship.
Streelman needs a good week to get into the top 30 in the standings and earn a spot in the last FedEx event – the Tour Championship at East Lake in Atlanta. The FedEx point leader after that event will earn a $10 million bonus in addition to his prize money.
Deutsche Bank winner Chris Kirk, world No. 1 Rory McIlroy and Hunter Mahan, winner of the first playoff event (The Barclays), are 1-2-3 in the standings going into the BMW.
Here and there
The PGA’s satellite Web.com Tour holds the second of its four playoff events, the Chiquita Classic in North Carolina, starting on Thursday. It’s important for Elgin’s Carlos Sainz Jr. because the top 25 in the Web.com Finals get PGA Tour cards for 2015. Sainz is tied for 19th after last week’s first event in the series at Fort Wayne, Ind.
The last major local competition, the Oct. 5-7 Chicago Open, has its first qualifying round in the area at Village Links of Glen Ellyn on Monday. The only other one locally will be Sept. 25 at Makray Memorial in Barrington before the tournament proper is played at Cantigny in Wheaton.
The Illinois Senior Open runs Monday and Tuesday at McHenry and the Chicago District Golf Assn. holds its Par 3 Championship Monday at Lost Dunes in Bridgman, MI., and its Mid-Amateur Championship Tuesday at Bridges of Poplar Creek in Hoffman Estates.