European Tour should look into Fed Ex Cup-style playoff, says Donald

Luke Donald at the DP World Tour Championship
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Luke Donald believes that Rory McIlroy's dominance this year indicates the need to find a way to guarantee more drama at the end of the European Tour season.
PA Sport

Series: European Tour

Published: Tuesday, November 20, 2012 | 1:21 p.m.

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates -- Luke Donald hopes to end his season with a bang this week. He also wants to give the European Tour something to think about.

After winning in Japan on Sunday, Donald is in Dubai for the $8 million DP World Tour Championship, the closing event of the European Tour season.

Yet with Rory McIlroy having clinched the European Tour money list two weeks ago, Donald wishes there was more on the line.

"It's a little bit more of an anti-climax than probably the Tour would want," he said Tuesday. "They may want to think about adding a scenario where that doesn't happen and incorporate either a playoff system or some other way to make sure that it does go down to the wire.

"I think that makes it more exciting."

The FedEx Cup playoffs on the PGA Tour are now constructed around a points system that means that, no matter what happens in the first three playoff tournaments, the $10 million bonus is still up for grabs in the fourth and final week.

This year, for example, McIlroy won the second and third legs, but it Brandt Snedeker lifted the trophy by winning the Tour Championship in Atlanta.

Donald remembers the pressure he felt under this time last year when he was trying to complete the same double of European Tour and PGA Tour money lists that McIlroy has now emulated.

"Last year I felt I had a target on my back," he said before jokingly adding: "Thanks Rory for making my achievement look ordinary.

"Rory has made it look pretty easy," he said. "His consistency was unmatched by anyone."

McIlroy did, however, miss the cut in the UBS Hong Kong Open last week while Donald was capturing the Dunlop Phoenix for his third victory of 2012.

"I knew it was always going to be tough to follow up last year, but I've still been successful," said Donald.

The big disappointments, though, were again the majors. The 34-year-old has still to land one and his best finish this time around was fifth in the British Open at Lytham.

He is going to put his clubs away for a month after this week and might not be seen in action again until mid-February.

The Dubai tournament is open to the leading 60 money-winners of the European Tour season, but Retief Goosen and Thomas Bjorn are injured and Ross Fisher has chosen to prepare for the upcoming PGA Tour qualifying school.

Not surprisingly, McIlroy is quite happy with a system that allowed him to wrap up the "Race to Dubai" two weeks before the finish. The 23-year-old Northern Irishman said he felt "a little hard done by" not to win the FedExCup after winning two of the first three playoff events.

"I think the format's good -- it's a season-long race," he commented of the European system.

The Race to Dubai silverware will be presented to him on Sunday and he added: "I'd like to pick up two trophies."

That would emulate Lee Westwood, who won the tournament and the money list title three years ago.

"Obviously I'm very proud and very honoured to win the 'Race to Dubai,'" he said. "I've had four goes at it and came close a couple of times, so it's great to be able to do it and it's been a phenomenal year."

European Tour Chief Executive George O'Grady is expected to discuss possible late-season changes to the tour on Sunday. But O'Grady told The Associated Press that the outcome year was not so much a result of a flawed system as the dominance of McIlroy. He ruled out any radical changes to the format.

''It's very hard to see it happening with the size of the prize fund this week and the size of the bonus pool,'' he said of the $3.75 million in bonus money that will be handed out to those finishing in the top 10 on the money list.

''He has had a phenomenal year, Rory McIlroy. It's as simple as that,'' he added. ''I think it's easy for our psychology to understand how you win this thing. The FedEx series in America is a very American concept with the playoffs. I wouldn't be immediately given to panic measures on this.''