Week in ReviewOctober 16, 2011

All About The Money

The Luke Donald-Webb Simpson money title race is a throwback to the pre-FedEx Cup era

Simpson came up just short of his third win in 2011, but he moved to first on the money list.

Simpson came up just short of his third win in 2011, but he moved to first on the money list.

Money has diminished as an interesting talking point in golf, notwithstanding the $11.4 million Bill Haas earned in a single day recently. Millions are dispensed weekly, disproving what your parents might have told you. Money does grow on trees, which explains why fairways typically are lined with them.

This, then, is an anomaly, this competition between Luke Donald and Webb Simpson. This time, it really is about the money and is compounding interest each week.

Donald is bidding to become the first player to lead both the PGA and European tours in earnings in a single season. Simpson is chasing the five-year exemption that comes with leading the PGA Tour in earnings.

On Sunday, Simpson lost to Ben Crane in a playoff at the McGladrey Classic

, but the $432,000 he earned enabled him to overtake Donald for the PGA Tour earnings lead with $6,200,243. Donald, who was not playing, now trails by $363,029.

Simpson and Donald have both entered the Children's Miracle Network Hospitals Classic, the final PGA Tour event, in an effort to secure the money title. To gauge the importance that Donald places on his quest, consider that he has not played in this event since 2003.

Donald holds a commanding lead (about $1.8 million) over Rory McIlroy in European Tour earnings, but winning the PGA Tour money title won't be as simple. Donald will have to finish no worse than second this week and will require that Simpson not have a high finish.

Still, given that both have been consistently strong performers this year -- Donald (13) and Simpson (11) are one-two in top 10s on the PGA Tour -- an otherwise meaningless end-of-season tournament promises to generate unexpected interest and temporarily restore money as a talking point.

A FOUNTAIN OF YOUTH

It's still too soon to declare the Tiger Woods' era over, but while its principal seeks answers that might help him to extend it indefinitely, a new era is already being ushered in.

Has golf ever enjoyed a similar surfeit of young, appealing stars as this generation is producing?

On Sunday, Tom Lewis, 20, won the European Tour's Portugal Masters

in just his third professional start. Recall that Lewis introduced himself to the golf world by virtue of his first-round lead in the British Open, while still an amateur.

Related: Golf's all-time biggest phenoms

Then there was Bud Cauley, 21, who left the University of Alabama early to chase professional golf. Cauley tied for 15th in the McGladrey Classic, a week after finishing third in the Frys.com Open.

In seven starts, Cauley has five top 25s, two top 10s and $735,150 in earnings, enough to finish in the top 125 money winners to earn his PGA Tour membership for 2012.

Cauley will become just the sixth player ever to turn pro and play his way into PGA Tour membership without having to enter PGA Tour Qualifying. He will join gilded company in doing so: Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, Justin Leonard, Ryan Moore and Gary Hallberg.

He and Lewis also join another select -- and growing -- group, players 23 or younger who promise to keep golf entertaining, however the Woods' story plays out. They include McIlroy, Rickie Fowler, Jason Day, Matteo Manassero and Ryo Ishikawa, with amateurs Patrick Cantlay, Peter Uihlein, Jordan Spieth and others on the horizon.

YOU CAN'T WIN 'EM ALL

Yani Tseng continues to make it abundantly clear that she will be a fixture at or near the top of the leader board week in and week out.

Tseng did not win the Sime Darby LPGA Malaysia on Sunday, possibly only because she left a 12-foot birdie putt short on the 18th hole. She lost to Na Yeon Choi by a stroke.

At that, she went out with a target score of six-under par 65, figuring that that ought to suffice. She hit it on the number, but had miscalculated.

Look for her to make amends this week. She is playing in her native Taiwan, in the Sunrise LPGA Taiwan Championship 2011.

JUST WONDERING

If Tiger Woods' knee was bothering him at the Frys.com Open, as some have suggested, how was it that he was able to stand on the Stanford sideline for four hours during its game with Colorado after playing that tournament's third round?

A KOREAN SLUMP?

Choi's victory was the first by a Korean in 2011. Koreans won nine tournaments in 2010, 11 in 2009.

ON TWITTER

David Feherty: "Is it always this early at 4:45am?"

Steve Elkington: "Tim Finchems world golf events + Fedex cup ... has washed out everything great bout following the tour.. P.O.Y, Vardon trophy, Money winner"

QUOTABLE

"The golf ball doesn't know how old you are or anything, just go out there and hit it and try to get it in the hole." Bud Cauley

MINUTIAE

Stacy Lewis tied for fifth in the Sime Darby LPGA Malaysia, her 11th top 10 in 19 starts...Tom Lewis moved to 166th in the World Ranking. He was 621st the week before...Ben Crane, meanwhile, moved to No. 50, while Tiger Woods is down to 55th.

ON DECK

PGA Tour: Children's Miracle Network Hospitals Classic at Magnolia and Palm golf courses, Lake Buena Vista, Fla. Defending champion Robert Garrigus. LPGA: Sunrise LPGA Taiwan Championship 2011 at Sunrise Golf and Country Club, Yang Mei, Taoyuan, Taiwan. Inaugural event.

Story lines

Luke Donald and Webb Simpson are in a heated competition for leading money winner on the PGA Tour and both are entered in the PGA Tour's final event.

Taiwan's Yani Tseng, the most dominant player in golf, is playing a virtual home game, the inaugural Sunrise LPGA Taiwan Championship 2011.

PARTING THOUGHT

Comparisons to Tiger Woods are as inane as they are inevitable for Tom Lewis, who already encountered one in the wake of his victory in the Portugal Masters on Sunday.

"How do you react when people say things like, 'you've won quicker as a professional than Tiger Woods did?'"

Related: Our favorite 'Tigerisms' throughout the years

Lewis deftly deflected the question, to his credit. "I've got a long way to go," he said. "I'm nowhere near the player I want to be, so you know, I'll put this win behind me at the end of the year and start fresh next year."

The problem is that he might be ahead of Woods' pace, but the pace is unsustainable. Tiger was one of a kind. Lewis and McIlroy, et al., are part of a young talented group that nonetheless would do well to win 14 major championships collectively.