Luke Donald fears he may have to quit the European Tour at the end of this season if he cannot turn around a form slump that has seen him tumble down the world rankings.
The 37-year-old four-time Ryder Cup star tees it up in the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth tomorrow desperate for a good week to keep him playing alongside the sport’s elite players in the biggest tournaments, and on a regular basis.
But his hopes of playing in both the US Open next month and The Open at St Andrews in July are currently hanging in the balance.
After flirting with a swing change for a year, Donald, who was world No.1 for two spells in 2011 and 2012, is now only 60th in the rankings.
And slipping just one more place in the next two weeks would see him having to go through qualifying events to play in the second and third Majors of the year for the first time in a decade.
It is that fear that he may no longer receive an automatic entry to the Majors and the four World Golf Championship events, and have to play more run-of-the-mill events on both the US and European Tour, that could see him playing full-time on the Western side of the Atlantic in 2016.
Asked yesterday at Wentworth whether he had thought about following Paul Casey’s lead and quitting the European Tour, he said: “Up until this year, not really, but with my world ranking sliding, I’d have to seriously consider something like that next year, if it has not got any better.
“If you’re not in the Majors and WGC events, to play both tours, you’re just thinning yourself out too much. And you 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, because I would dearly love to continue being a member of both Tours, and obviously having a chance to play in The Ryder Cup again.
“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, getting into the Top 50 for The Open, I’m obviously aware of those.
“But I don’t want them to be too much of a focus. The focus has to be on doing what I can do going through those processes of being ready each week and being prepared.
“I think going through all the swing changes, I probably got a little bit lost in that. I think I got a little bit too focused on my swing and spending a lot of time on the range. There just wasn’t enough structure there.
“But I feel I’m back on a good path and hopefully, as I said, we’ll see some better results.”
However, the answer that Donald gave to another question put to him yesterday hinted that he could see another way round his dilemma.
The subject had switched away from his form and rankings when he asked what initiatives he would like to see Canadian business magnate Keith Pelley adopt when he takes over as the new chief executive of the European Tour from George O’Grady within the next couple of months.
He may have had his own hidden agenda when he said, “Honestly I think it would be nice to see a reduction in the number of counting events needed for The European Tour. I think it would encourage some other players from around the world to become members of The European Tour.
“I don’t think it would affect the number of events I would play necessarily, but I think it would help certain players, even US guys, be encouraged to join this tour and grow this tour.
“I know there’s certain rules in place on the PGA Tour that you can only have so many releases to play events on other tours – them being only allowed three or four releases, simply the maths doesn’t work.
“I think there’s some room for improvement there, and I think ironically, minimising the number of events would actually strengthen the Tour.”
*This article was originally published in the The Golf Paper on 20 May 2015