Luke Donald and Rory McIlroy during last year’s French Open. Picture Fran Caffrey/www.golffile.ieWorld No 1 Luke Donald is convinced that Rory McIlroy has more “pure talent” than 14-time major champion Tiger Woods.

Set to battle the Holywood hotshot for the Race to Dubai title this week, Donald insisted: “Tiger’s work ethic has always been tremendous and his mindset is what has separated him from the field when he was really at the top of the game. But I think Rory has more pure talent. I see him winning lots of tournaments and lots of majors.”

Donald leads second placed McIlroy by €789,789 at the top of the money list going into the final event of the season.

And if McIlroy wins the Dubai World Championship, Donald must finish in the top nine to become the first player to win the money title on both sides of the pond.

But the Englishman knows that he’s faces an extra special challenge from the 22-year old Holywood phenomenon.

Donald said: “Rory showed the world how great he can be when he won the US Open. That was an unbelievable way to play in a major event and finish it off like he did. He’s young and has a great future ahead of him.”

McIlroy must win the tournament to have any chance of becoming European No 1 for the first time.

But Donald, two turned 34 yesterday, is highly motivated after an emotional end to the best season of his life.

Still affected by the sudden death of his father Colin last month, Donald said: “I had five weeks off recently after my dad passed away. It happened a few days before my second daughter was born so it was a wide range of emotions.

“I’m not sure he will specifically be on my mind this weekend, but it would be nice to win it for him.”