McIlroy looks to Donald as man to beat after ‘phenomenal year’
Rory McIlroy saluted Luke Donald's "phenomenal year" and admitted he needs to emulate the Englishman's achievements if he is to capture his world number one crown.
Donald's remarkable season has brought four wins, including the WGC Accenture Match Play Championship, and the US Money Title while the 33-year-old is on course to win The Race To Dubai as he attempts to become the first man to top money lists on both sides of the Atlantic in the same season.
Last Sunday marked six months at the pinnacle of the world game for Donald and McIlroy was full of praise for his rival, but is keen to overhaul him next year.
"It's been incredible, he's earned over 150 world ranking points more than anyone else, he's won four tournaments over the world, he's won the money list in America, it looks like he's going to win the money list in Europe as well, he's had a phenomenal year," said the Irishman.
"He is deservedly the number one player in the world, he's been the most consistent performer over the past 12 to 18 months.
"That's the sort of level of golf I'll need to play to overtake him and try and get the number one spot. My goal this year was to try and consolidate myself in the top five in the world and I moved up to two, which is a great achievement.
"If I can get a little bit closer to that number one spot by the end of 2011, try and play well at the start of 2012 and try and get to the number one spot, of course it's a big ambition for me. Being so close, it would be great to take that next step."
McIlroy, in Hong Kong for this week's Hong Kong Open, had recently revealed his intention to play more events on the PGA Tour next season but insisted it would not come at the expense of his European Tour commitments.
"I'm just going to add a couple more events to my schedule in America, it's not a drastic change," he said.
"I feel like I play well in the States, I feel a lot of good results come from there. Previously when I tried to play on the PGA Tour, I didn't really have a base over there and now that I do, it will be easier to play over there and stay there for a longer period of time.
"Also it's just something I want to go and do. It's not like I'm neglecting the European Tour, I'll try and support it the best I can.
"The European Tour has been good to me for the first few years of my career, they gave me invites as an amateur, they've been fantastic to me, I'll never leave the European Tour but Luke Donald has proved this year that you can play both tours and be very successful."