If Luke Donald finishes higher than ninth at this week’s Dubai World Challenge, he’ll not only wrap up the Race to Dubai title, but become the first player in history to hold both the PGA and European Tour order of merit titles simultaneously.
Should he prove slow to shake off the torpor induced by a month-long absence from the game, however, there remains one player capable of threatening his transatlantic hegemony.
That individual is, of course, none other than Rory McIlroy, a player Donald has been quick to hail the game’s most prodigious talent.
“Tiger’s work ethic has always been tremendous, and his mindset as well… 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.”
Is the World Number One engaging in some pre-tournament mind games, donning the avuncular persona of a generous Tour veteran in the hope of unsettling his opponent, or is he merely trying to motivate himself?
Sincerity is a third option, I suppose, but Wednesday of a tournament week is no time for that, surely?