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Luke Donald will ignore 'skewed' world rankings for his Ryder Cup wildcards

Luke Donald of England plays his second shot on the seventh hole during day two of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship at Yas Links Golf Course on January 20, 2023 - Andrew Redington/GETTY
Luke Donald of England plays his second shot on the seventh hole during day two of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship at Yas Links Golf Course on January 20, 2023 - Andrew Redington/GETTY

Luke Donald, Europe's captain, has joined calls for the new world rankings system to be “fixed”, but says he will take the flaws into account when selecting his six wildcards for September’s Ryder Cup in Rome.

There is growing dissent about a mechanism that appears to favour the PGA Tour by cutting down the points for winning on other Tours as well as in limited-field events.

The changes have led Lee Westwood to declare that it “is now impossible for a pro competing primarily on the European Tour to reach the world’s top five” and even Tiger Woods to demand that the anomalies are ruled out.

Meanwhile, Spaniard Jon Rahm only rose from fifth to fourth in the rankings despite winning three out of his past four starts and his situation looks even more bizarre this weekend at the American Express Championship in California. If he wins again, he will jump to third, but if Patrick Cantlay prevails he will go from fifth to first. Donald recognises the faults.

“If you talk to statisticians they tell you it’s now fairer, but it does seem a bit off,” Donald told Telegraph Sport. “Maybe it was a little soft one way before and now it has gone too far in the other direction. They need to figure it out, because I don't think it really puts a value on how difficult winning is, wherever a player wins and however big the field is.

“However, it could take months to mend and it may not be in time for the Ryder Cup and it may still be skewed against those who play on the DP World Tour. It looks harder than ever for some of our young guys to get into that world top 50 and from there into the biggest events. I want the players to know that I will be taking all this into account when I make my captain’s picks.”

Donald is playing in the Abu Dhabi Championship at Yas Links, but in a tie for 26th on seven-under, six behind leaders Shane Lowry (66), Francesco Molinari (69) and Min Woo Lee (66), his opportunity to record an unlikely victory looks lost.

Donald’s predecessor, Padraig Harrington, could make history, however. The 51-year-old is only two back on 11-under after a brilliant 64 and is in giddying contention to become the Tour’s oldest ever winner.

“It would mean an awful lot to me,” he said.

Harrington has won four times on the Champions Tour since he joined it last year, including the US Seniors Open, and believes the experience has given him a fresh lease of competitive life.

“I believe I'm better than I've ever been, although that doesn’t mean that’s a fact,” the three-time major winner said.

“My focus is great. I had six birdies in a row today and I didn't even know until I signed my card. It’s funny, because I was one of the first players to keep their own stats. Yet now that everybody is doing their own stats, I'm refusing to do them because I don't want to be one of the masses. I have to be different.”