Ailing McIlroy admits his Race is run

Donald on brink of history as US Open champion concedes money list title


Eighteen are still left to be counted, but Rory McIlroy has conceded the Race. This isn't a question of a candidate throwing in the towel; rather that candidate refusing to seek refuse in the flannel. Luke Donald is simply too good to hide from the reality in soundbites.

"It's over – definitely," said McIlroy as he peered up at the Dubai World Championship leader Luke Donald in fourth and himself in a tie for eighth. History is heading towards High Wycombe as their favourite golfing son prepares to become the first player to lift both the US and European money list titles in the same season.

For McIlroy to top the Order of Merit he would need only to make up the six shots to the leader, AlvaroQuiros, as well as see Donald fall six spots. Unlikely – to use an understatement. "The race is run," said McIlroy. "I fully expect Luke to go out there and shoot another very good solid round and wrap this thing up. He deserves it. He's had an incredible year."

Hasn't he just. When the final putt drops this evening Donald can look back over a season in which he compiled more victories than anyone in the world's top 50, won more money and ranking points and amassed more top 10s. Today, barring a collapse which would appear like a freak figure on his results sheet, Donald will record his 20th top 10 of the campaign which will ensure his transatlantic achievement. In truth, that will be the very least of his ambition. The Dubai World Championship is in his sights as well as the opportunity to receive more than £1.7 million in a single day.

Following a 66, Donald is on 10-under, four behind Quiros, who in turn is two ahead of Scotland's Paul Lawrie and three ahead of South Africa's Louis Oosthuizen. Quiros's nearest challengers are both former Open champions, although it is the sight of the world No 1 which will ring most bells. "This was the perfect round for me – exactly what I wanted," said Donald, reflecting on the six-birdie, no-bogey magnificence which hauled him from 12th. It looked effortless, as soon as he had made a 14-footer for birdie on the first after bogeying it the first two days. But he claimed it was anything but.

"History comes with pressure," said the 34-year-old. "It definitely feels different out there. I said from the start I could get in trouble if I concentrated on that required ninth position. But at times it's been tough not to. It's almost like being back playing in Q-School, somewhere I haven't been for 10 years. Despite all the great work I've done this year if I wasn't able to quite complete it tomorrow, I'd walk away feeling I missed out."

Donald, inevitably, declined to agree the job was done, but the fact he was saying "I have given myself a chance to win" told its own story. In many ways, this round encapsulated a season during which, in his own words, "the mistakes have been kept to a minimum". And even when his long game goes awry, his peerless short game is there to mop up. "When I got into trouble I was able to dig myself out," he said. "My career has been built on consistency and that was a good example of it."

In contrast, McIlroy's career has been built on his ball-striking and on the back nine there was a fine display to atone for the errors of the front nine. Three-over out, four-under in and McIlroy, after coming back from a three-shot deficit to win in Hong Kong last Sunday, had a 71, leaving him with the faintest of squeaks. "It would be nice to finish well, a top-three would be a good result," said McIlroy. He will then probably call it quits for the year, skipping next week's Thailand Championship, an event for which he has long been signed up.

McIlroy confirmed yesterday that he was diagnosed with dengue fever last month and the after-effects have taken their toll. "I'm tired, but I don't want to use that as an excuse because, as I showed on the back nine I can play good golf," said McIlroy, who was due to see the doctor last night. Perhaps the appearance of his girlfriend, the world No 1 tennis player Caroline Wozniacki, on the 10th tee also perked him up. The rumour is that rather than travel to Thailand he will take the chance to look for a property in Dubai to act as a hub.

Meanwhile, Donald will return to Chicago and McIlroy prays he will make that journey with the praise bellowing in his direction. "From within the golfing family he will receive all the plaudits, but unfortunately outside the golfing world people will question whether he should be No 1 because he hasn't won a major," said McIlroy. "I really hope he does get the credit for the golf he has played. As I said, Luke deserves it."

Suggested Topics
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before