Donald, who starts his 13th week as the world’s No. 1-ranked golfer, can still pull off a rare double by winning the PGA and European tours’ leading money titles in the same season. Financially, that’s nice, but Donald eyes something else. He would like to win the respective tours’ big prize, which on the PGA Tour is the FedEx Cup. The European Tour’s season-long competition is the Race to Dubai in which the winner receives the Harry Vardon Trophy that originated in 1937.
“Winning trophies rather than the title of being leading money winner is much more important to me,” he said. “I’m obviously in a position where I have a great chance. I have a pretty good lead over in Europe [in the Race to Dubai], and obviously I’m going to have to play well the next few events.”
Donald enters The Barclays, the first of the four-tournament FedEx Cup Playoffs, at No. 4 in FedEx Cup point standings. He has enjoyed a banner season, but failed to capture what matters most to him in golf — a major.
In 14 PGA Tour starts this season, Donald has 10 top-10 finishes, including a win at the World Golf Championships-Accenture Match Play Championship in late February.
“Obviously it’s been a great year so far,” he said. “But there’s things that haven’t quite gone my way. I missed a couple of opportunities to win tournaments.
I’m going in the right direction in the majors. I had a chance on Sunday on the back nine in two of them this year. I think that’s probably never happened in my career.”
Rapidly approaching age 34, Donald is developing a sense of urgency. Being No. 1 in the world, like winning gobs of money, is nice, but it rings hollow without the more meaningful trappings.
“I’m pretty realistic knowing that it’s going to be hard for me to accomplish what Tiger [Woods] has done in his career,” Donald said. “I’ve got my own kind of agenda, and I’m working towards winning, and winning as much as I can, and winning majors.
“But I feel like if I’m not in contention and don’t have chances, then I’m not going to win. And at least I’m giving myself a chance.”
Stuart Hall is editor of the Golf Press Association.