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McIlroy ready to hunt down Donald

ESPN staff
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Rory McIlroy wants to close the gap between him and Luke Donald © Getty Images
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World No. 2 Rory McIlroy has made overhauling Luke Donald as the world's best player one of his main goals for 2012.

McIlroy, who rose to second in the world rankings this month after an impressive 2011 which saw him clinch victories at both the US Open and Shanghai Masters, remains some way adrift of Donald in the rankings.

The Englishman has won four times around the world this season while consistently finishing inside the top ten in most of his other events, leaving him on course to add the European Tour money list title to the PGA Tour equivalent he clinched last month.

McIlroy is full of admiration for Donald's achievements, but has already plotted a course for him to surpass the Englishman over the next 12 months.

"It's been incredible, he's earned over 150 world ranking points more than anyone else, he's won four tournaments over the world, he's won the money list in America, it looks like he's going to win the money list in Europe as well, he's had a phenomenal year," McIlroy said.

"He is deservedly the No. 1 player in the world, he's been the most consistent performer over the past 12 to 18 months.

"That's the sort of level of golf I'll need to play to overtake him and try and get the No. 1 spot. My goal this year was to try and consolidate myself in the top five in the world and I moved up to two, which is a great achievement.

"If I can get a little bit closer to that No. 1 spot by the end of 2011, try and play well at the start of 2012 and try and get to the No. 1 spot, of course it's a big ambition for me. Being so close, it would be great to take that next step."

In pursuit of that goal the Northern Irishman has decided to take up PGA Tour membership for next season, a move partly inspired by his rival. McIlroy insists he will not neglect the European Tour as a result, but feels he plays some of his best golf on the other side of the Atlantic.

"I'm just going to add a couple more events to my schedule in America, it's not a drastic change," he said. "I feel like I play well in the States, I feel a lot of good results come from there.

"Previously when I tried to play on the PGA Tour, I didn't really have a base over there and now that I do, it will be easier to play over there and stay there for a longer period of time.

"The European Tour has been good to me for the first few years of my career, they gave me invites as an amateur, they've been fantastic to me, I'll never leave the European Tour but Luke Donald has proved this year that you can play both tours and be very successful."

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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