Donald Gets a Win and His Exemption : He Beats Simpson in Rain-Delayed Playoff for First PGA Victory
Mike Donald, who birdied eight of the last 10 holes in his final tournament of 1988 to retain his PGA Tour playing privileges, will not have to worry about doing something as drastic as that this year.
“I hope this is just the beginning,” Donald said Monday after he defeated Tim Simpson with a birdie on the fourth hole of a playoff to win the Anheuser-Busch golf tournament.
The playoff was suspended by rain and darkness Sunday, and it took only one hole Monday to determine the winner.
The victory, the first of Donald’s 10-year pro career, was worth $153,000 from the $850,000 purse. But more important for Donald, it gave him a two-year exemption on the tour.
“Last year, I was in danger of losing my card,” said Donald, who was 135th on the 1988 money list going into the final tournament, the Walt Disney World tournament.
Since he did not have a winner’s exemption for 1989, he needed to finish in the top 125 on the money list to retain his playing card for this year.
“They were getting ready to tell me to find another way to make a living,” said Donald, whose final-round birdies left him 96th on last year’s money list with $118,509, nearly $35,000 less than he earned Monday.
While most tour events carry a two-year exemption, the tour’s policy board has determined that some of the so-called majors can give a golfer playing privileges for up to 10 years.
The playoff began late Sunday afternoon when Donald, Simpson and Hal Sutton finished four rounds of Kingsmill Golf Club’s 6,776-yard layout at 268, 16-under par.
Heavy showers interrupted the playoff after they parred the first hole, and when play resumed nearly an hour later, they all parred the second hole and moved to the 438-yard 18th, where Donald and Simpson had pars and Sutton was eliminated with a double-bogey 6.
At that point, it was nearly 8:30 p.m. EDT, and officials determined it was too dark to continue play.
Shortly before 9 a.m. Monday, under a gray sky and a threat of more rain, Donald and Simpson teed off at the 427-yard 16th.
Both drove onto the fairway, and Donald, from 166 yards out, was the first to play his approach. He chose a 7-iron, and his ball landed in the middle of the green and stopped seven feet from the cup.
Simpson then hit his approach to the front of the soft green, and the ball stopped about 30 feet from the hole.
After surveying his uphill birdie attempt, Simpson left his putt about four feet short and marked the ball. Donald, whose ball was on a nearly identical line to Simpson’s, then rolled in the winner.