VIRGINIA WATER, England – Luke Donald could be forced to quit the European Tour if he continues his slide down the Official World Golf Ranking, the Englishman revealed on the eve of the 5 million euro ($5.57 million) BMW PGA Championship.
Donald returns to England ranked 60th in the world. The former World No. 1 needs to climb back inside the top 50 for ease of scheduling on the PGA and European tours. Otherwise, his European Tour membership will be in jeopardy.
Paul Casey is absent from this week’s European Tour flagship event because he has suspended his tour membership to try to raise his world status on the PGA Tour. Donald might have to take a similar approach.
“With my world ranking sliding, I’d have to seriously consider something like that next year if it had not gotten better,” Donald said. “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. So that’s something I would have to consider.
“I haven’t even got close to thinking about that yet, but I would dearly love to continue being a member of both tours and obviously having a chance to play in the Ryder Cup.”
Donald, 37, reached World No. 1 in 2011 after defeating Lee Westwood in a playoff for the BMW PGA Championship. He successfully defended the title in 2012, and has a great record around Wentworth’s West Course in the European Tour’s backyard.
He has four other top-10 finishes here, including a runner-up in 2010 and T-3s in 2008 and ’14. He hopes that being back on a favorite course can help him start climbing back up the Official World Golf Ranking.
“This has been a very successful event for me in the past, and yeah, hopefully it will churn up some of those good memories and inspire me to kind of get my season kind of kicked off. It’s been a very stuttering season so far, and one that has not been that enjoyable.”
Top-50 players easily can play both tours because the four major championships and four WGC events count on both side of the Atlantic. Donald hasn’t had to worry about missing out on the blue-chip events for most of his career. However, that will change if his world ranking continues to slide.
“There’s some things on the line that I haven’t had to worry about in the past,” he said. “Obviously staying in the top 60 for U.S. Open, getting in the top 50 for the Open (Championship), I’m obviously aware of these. I don’t want to have them be too much of a focus.”
Donald is back working on his swing with former college coach Pat Goss of Northwestern after a year working with Chuck Cook. English fans will be hoping that the back-to-the-future approach helps Donald remain as a European Tour member.