Originally created 11/05/02

Donald gets first PGA win in rain-shortened tournament



MADISON, Miss. -- Luke Donald was hoping for a little more drama for his first PGA Tour victory.

The rookie from England won the Southern Farm Bureau Classic on Monday when the final round was canceled because of rain.

"It's definitely not the way I would have liked to have won my first," he said. "A win is a win and I'll take it. I would have loved to have done it over 72 holes. But it was out of our control so there was nothing I could do."

Donald, the 1999 NCAA champion from Northwestern, completed the three rounds at 15-under-par 201, a stroke ahead of Deane Pappas. Brad Elder, who led the first two rounds, was third, at 203.

The 24-year-old Donald became the 18th first-time winner on the PGA Tour this season with a 54-hole total of 15-under 201 at the Annandale Golf Club course.

The course was already soaked from 13 inches of rain in the area the last five weeks, including about 4 inches last weekend.

Fifty-four players were on the soggy course when play was stopped after about an hour Sunday. Thirty-two players, including the leaders, did not start their final round. No golf was played Monday.

Donald moved into the lead with a third-round 67 Saturday and earned $468,000 for the victory. His previous best finish was 13th at the season-opening Sony Open in Hawaii.

"Coming up to this week I had played steady but I never really contended," he said. "This is a big step for me. It's going to give me a lot of confidence going into the offseason."

This was the second time in four seasons the Southern Farm Bureau Classic was shortened to 54 holes by inclement weather. Brian Henninger won in 1999 after three rounds and also won in 1994 in 36 holes.

Many players at the final tour event of the season were trying to play their way up the money list to earn playing privileges for next season.

The top 125 on the final money list are fully exempt for next season. Those ranked between 126-150 can only play a limited number of events. Anyone outside the top 150 can get back on tour through Q school, which begins this week. Those between 126-150 advance to the final round of Q school and get a couple of extra weeks off.

Pappas and Elder made big jumps up the list. Pappas earned $280,800 to go from 170th to 129th and Elder went from No. 173 to 147. Moving out the top 150 were Dennis Paulson, who started the tournament at 149, and Grant Waite, who was 150.

With so much on the line, Pappas was happy he didn't have to play in a quagmire.

"I just didn't want to go out there in the slop and have something weird happen," he said.

Elder lost the lead on the back nine of the third round, but didn't blame bad luck.

"I should have played better Saturday," he said.

No one made a more significant leap than Jay Williamson. He came into the tournament at No. 134, but with the $85,150 he earned for finishing tied for fifth he moved up to 125th.

"I can't sit hear and say I'm disappointed," he said, referring to the decision to cancel the final round. "I got to be honest. I'm pretty happy."

David Frost was 125th to start the tournament but didn't make the cut. He has a one-time exemption available for being among the top 50 in career earnings.

Rookie Jonathan Byrd moved into the top 40 with his fifth-place check, earning him a spot in next year's Masters. Byrd went from 41st to 39th and passed fellow rookie Peter Lonard, who finished tied for 54th at the season's final event.

Lonard ended up 41st in earnings. The other leading contender for rookie of the year honors, Pat Perez, was 41st. Donald moved up to 58th on the money list from 106.