Dubai - England's world No 1 Luke Donald, who is attempting to win the Order of Merit on both sides of the Atlantic this week, on Wednesday paid the ultimate tribute to the only man who can deny him that honour, saying Rory McIlroy is a more talented golfer than Tiger Woods.
Donald, whose amazing consistency in 2011 has made him the world No 1 for a little over six months now, leads McIlroy in the European Tour's Race to Dubai going into the season-ending Dubai World Championship by 789 788 euros.
All he needs to do is ensure he finishes inside the top-10 this week to become the new European No1.
The Englishman has finished outside the top 10 only three times in 12 starts on the European Tour this year. In fact, he has been in the top 10 in 20 of his 26 worldwide starts in 2011.
But Donald is under no illusions that it will be a cakewalk for him, especially considering he is up against the reigning US Open champion and the world No 2, McIlroy.
"I think we all expected Rory to come out and play great. He showed the world how great he can be and will be going forward at the US Open.
"That was an unbelievable way to play in that event and finish it off like he did. I've always said, I think of the guys I've played out here on Tour, Rory has the most talent that I've ever played with," said Donald.
When questioned if that list includes 14-time Major champion Tiger Woods, Donald said: "I believe so, yeah. I know Tiger is very, very close and obviously I think Tiger's work ethic has always been tremendous, and his mindset, as well.
"I think his mindset is what has separated himself from the field when he was really at the top of the game. But in terms of talent, I think Rory has more talent.
"He's young and he's got a great future ahead of him and I see him winning lots of tournaments and lots of Majors.
"I'm not surprised the year he's had. He probably has not won as much as he thought, but he's got time for that. I'm sure he'll put up a good challenge this week. I think the sky's the limit for him."
Donald finished seventh in last week's Nedbank Challenge in Sun City after taking a five-week break from the game following his sensational win in the PGA Tour's season-ending tournament in Disney Resort.
He made eight birdies in a 10-hole stretch on the final day and the victory catapulted him ahead of Webb Simpson in Money List.
During the break, Donald lost his own father, and then became a father for the second time.
"The weeks off, obviously with my dad's passing, it was unexpected. And to happen a few days before my second daughter was born was a wide range of emotions, something you can't ever prepare for, and it was very, very sad," said Donald.
"It was very, very tough. I think the birth of my second daughter did spread a little grace on the situation.
"So, the last week really was - and no disrespect to Nedbank, it's a great tournament with a great field - but it was an opportunity for me to play four rounds under a competitive situation, really find a little bit of timing and rhythm in my game.
"It served its purpose. I felt like it was a good week for me in terms of shaking off some rust and I am now ready for this."
McIlroy's win last week in Hong Kong ensured Donald cannot take anything for granted here, and he is happy with the situation.
Donald said: "It would have been nice to be sitting on the beach right now with a cocktail in my hand and not worrying about it too much. But that's not really my nature.
"I think there's nothing really easy in life. You have to kind of earn those successes, and I fully expected Rory to play well and put some pressure on me.
"And I think in terms of this tournament and the sponsors, they obviously made a huge deal that it's not an anti-climax; that there is still a possible outcome of more than just one winner. It's made me more focused this week and I'm looking forward to the challenge."
Donald is paired with McIlroy for the opening round of the tournament.