(Reuters) – World number one Luke Donald and second-ranked Rory McIlroy go in search of desert treasure at this week’s Dubai World Championship, the final event of the European Tour season.
McIlroy cranked up the pressure on his fellow Briton at the top of the money-list by holing out in stunning fashion from a greenside bunker to land the Hong Kong Open title on Sunday.
Donald, however, still has a lead of more than $1 million over the second-placed Northern Irishman and only needs to finish among the leading eight in Dubai to become the first player to win the orders of merit on both sides of the Atlantic.
“I’ve got a nice, comfortable lead,” Donald told reporters after finishing seventh at the Sun City Challenge invitational event in South Africa won by fellow Englishman Lee Westwood on Sunday.
“The advantage is still in my court. Rory is going to have to go and win in Dubai against a high-quality field.”
Tour officials could not have scripted the Dubai extravaganza better, with the top two players in the world fighting to end the season as European number one for the first time in their careers.
World number three Westwood will also be buoyant after his victory at Sun City while fourth-ranked German Martin Kaymer, last year’s European number one, is likely to be another contender for the first prize of $1.25 million.
The financial incentives in Dubai are huge, with $7.5 million available in prize fund and an additional $7.5 million bonus pool up for grabs for the top 15 players in the final money-list.