The 34-year-old, the No. 1 player in the Official World Golf Ranking, topped the money lists on both the American and European circuits, the only player to achieve the feat.
“It is always nice to be appreciated, especially from the people in the sport who know the game inside out,” Donald said in a European Tour statement. “They have recognized what I have done this year and it is very gratifying to have that validation.”
Donald received the award for his “historic achievement, allied to the consistently high standard of his golf throughout 2011,” the European Tour said. The judging panel featured print journalists and commentators from radio and television.
He won three times on the European Tour: at the World Golf Championships match-play event in February, the Scottish Open, and the BMW PGA Championship. He became world No. 1 for a first time in May after beating countryman Lee Westwood in a playoff at the BMW PGA Championship.
A third-place finish at the Dubai World Championship on Dec. 11 ensured that he finished atop the European Tour’s Order of Merit with 5.3 million euros ($6.9 million) in prize money. His on-course winnings on the PGA Tour were $6.7 million.
Donald led the European money list after playing six fewer events than second-place Rory McIlroy and topped the U.S. money list having played seven fewer events than runner-up Webb Simpson.