Luke Donald could be forced to quit the European Tour next year, saying goodbye to his chances of a Ryder Cup return in the process, if his slide down the world rankings continues.
Donald has fallen from top spot three years ago to 60th, the cut-off point for automatic qualification for the US Open next month.
If the 37-year-old fails to maintain that position at the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth this week, a tournament he won in 2011 to ascend to the world No 1 spot for the first time, Donald will have to play a regional US Open qualifier at the Bear’s Club in Florida to make the field at Chambers Bay.
Monday is also the deadline for qualification for the Open Championship via the rankings, but only the top 50 gain automatic entry into the world’s oldest major, which would require a top-five finish by Donald on Sunday.
“With my world ranking sliding, I’d have to seriously consider something like that [resigning from European Tour] next year if it had not gotten better,” said Donald.
“If you’re not in the majors and world events, to play both tours, you’re just thinning yourself out too much, or would have to play 30, 35 events for the year.”
Europe’s golfers are required to contest 13 events on the European Tour to retain their membership. With the eight majors and world golf championship tournaments counting towards both the European and PGA Tours, players must commit to five more tournaments during the year.
Were Donald to fail to qualify for the majors and WGCs, it would be impossible to maintain membership of two tours – and since the PGA Tour carries more ranking points, Donald would be left with no option but to prioritise the United States, which would automatically exclude him from Ryder Cup consideration.
“There are some things on the line that I haven’t had to worry about in the past – obviously, staying in the top 60 for the US Open and getting in the top 50 for the Open,” he added. “Though I’m aware of these, I don’t want to have them be too much of a focus.”
Donald’s problems began after the US Open in 2012, when he ditched coach Pat Goss in favour of Chuck Cook in pursuit of more length off the tee. He subsequently returned to Goss at the end of last year, claiming the swing changes he had tried to make were incommensurate with his golfing DNA.
“I liked Chuck,” said Donald. “Unfortunately, what he was trying to do in my swing, I wasn’t really accomplishing. I feel I’m back on a good path now and, hopefully, we’ll see some better results.”Reuse content