by Jeff Skinner
This is just what the brass at the European Tour had in mind when they developed the “Race to Dubai” and the season ending Dubai World Championship. Two of the tour’s superstars will face off for the tour’s money title this week. Luke Donald leads Rory McIlroy by a little more than a million dollars as he attempts to become the first member to win both the European and PGA Tour money titles.
Donald already claimed the PGA Tour Title and now he’ll face McIlroy who now is probably the world’s second most popular golfer, right behind Tiger Woods. Donald has been the world’s most consistent golfer this year with four wins and 27 weeks as the world’s number one golfer. McIlroy solidified his place as the face of this young generation when he dusted the field at this summer’s U.S. Open.
Donald has had a strange few weeks recently. He lost his father last month but then celebrated the birth of his daughter days later. “I had five weeks off recently after my dad passed away,” he said. “It happened a few days before my second daughter was born so it was a wide range of emotions. I lost a good friend in my dad and someone that introduced me to the game. Losing him was very sad and something you can’t ever prepare for.”
He tried to shake off the rust of not playing at The Nedbank Challenge last week but only finished seventh out of twelve golfers.
McIlroy on the other hand is coming off a victory at The UBS Hong Kong Open but he is less than perfect physically. He has been battling a virus that has sapped his strength.
Donald needs only to finish in the top nine to secure the money title and that is exactly the way he has played all year, he has more top tens than any golfer on the planet. But he knows this won’t be easy. Donald thinks Rory has more talent than anyone in the game. “Tiger’s work ethic has always been tremendous, and his mindset as well,” Donald said. “But I think Rory has more pure talent. I have always said that, of the guys I’ve played with, Rory has the most talent. I see him winning lots of tournaments and lots of majors.”
The two will get to go head to head for the first two rounds as the Euro Tour paired them based on their one, two ranking. Donald’s quest comes to an end on Sunday and if he completes it he said it will be his greatest accomplishment. But first he’ll have to get by Rory and 56 other golfers to claim his victory.