Dubai: If he makes history this weekend and becomes the first golfer to win both the European and American money titles in the same season, Luke Donald said it would rank as his greatest achievement.
The No. 1-ranked Englishman said Wednesday it would also be a chance for him to celebrate his late father Colin, who introduced the game to him and "taught me everything he knew." Donald's father died last month, days before the birth of Donald's second daughter, Sophia Ann.
"When someone leaves you, you are always reminded of them in certain ways," the 34-year-old Donald said. "I'm sure he'll be there with me. I'm not sure if I'll specifically try to think about my father, but, yeah, it would be nice to win one for him."
Donald, who's already won the American money title, is in a duel with No. 2-ranked Rory McIlroy for the European money title. The Northern Irishman trails Donald by just under 790,000 euros ($1 million) and must win the Dubai World Championship starting Thursday and hope that Donald finishes outside the top nine in order to capture the title.
Donald could have clinched the title on Sunday, but McIlroy won the Hong Kong Open to keep the European Tour's end-of-season Race To Dubai alive.
Although Donald admitted wishing he'd already won the title, he welcomed the chance to go head-to-head with McIlroy, whom he considers a friend and rival.
"I think there is nothing really easy in life. You have to kind of earn those successes and I fully expect Rory to play well and put some pressure on me," Donald said. "It's made me more focused this week and I'm looking forward to the challenge."
Winning the elusive double wasn't a goal for Donald at the beginning of the year, but he said it started creeping into his mind after he won the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth in a playoff over Lee Westwood in May. Donald rose to No. 1 with the win, becoming only the 15th player to reach the top ranking in 25 years.
Donald has won three other titles this season, including the Disney's Children's Miracle Network Hospitals Classic where he snatched the U.S. money title from Webb Simpson. That put him on course for unprecedented success on both money lists.
"As time went on and I played and won the right tournaments, then certainly it became a goal," he said. "You know, it's something I've heard other players talk about in the past few years. I remember Ernie (Els) talking about it once and how hard it would be to do but how satisfying it would be to be able to do that."
For Donald, winning the double would be a chance "to make history."
"No one's officially done it before. I think that's pretty amazing," he said. "It's not easy to travel as much as you do playing both tours and to be able to adjust to the time changes and all that. ... If it all works out Sunday, that will be my biggest accomplishment."
But will it silence the detractors who have questioned whether Donald deserves to be No. 1 because he hasn't won a major? Donald finished in a share of fourth place at this year's Masters, eighth at the PGA Championship and 45th at the US Open. He missed the cut at the British Open.
The composed and low-key Donald said he wasn't concerned about his critics, insisting that earning the No. 1 spot without winning a major in some ways is more impressive.
"The critics will always be there and they make me stronger to be honest," Donald said.
"Every time someone says I can't do anything, it just makes me work harder," he said. "So you know, fine. I don't really mind that there's critics out there. I've had a tremendous year and I'm excited about next year. I think I'm a different player this year because of all the victories. I feel more confident. Hopefully, I can bring the game to the majors."