Luke Donald is relishing competing in the Bankia Madrid Masters this week as victory last year proved the catalyst for his march to World Number One.
The Englishman edged out Welshman Rhys Davies by one stroke to end a four year drought without a trophy, and his career has since gone from strength to strength.
Donald, who is looking to become the first player to top the European and US money list, can extend his lead in the Race to Dubai as rivals Rory McIlroy, Charl Schwartzel and Lee Westwood are not in action this week.
Competing in both tours has taken its toll on Donald, who intends to rest after competing at El Encin in order to be present for the birth of his second child, but the 33 year old is eager to defend his crown.
He said: “It’s good to be back. I always enjoy coming back to places to defend. Lots of good things happened to me from the win last year - my career has really excelled and winning is very important. It’s nice to come back here and support the event.
“It’s not easy to play both tours. The way my schedule has turned out this year with the FedEx Cup and my wife expecting our second in a few weeks, I had to cram it in a little bit. It’s not easy but I’m finding the energy to keep going.
“When you are playing well the game is a lot more fun. I’m enjoying the success I’ve had and being in contention. When you are in contention adrenaline really does drive you. Hopefully I’ll be able to feed on that and carry on the good results.
“But being always in contention takes a physical and mental toll on you. It’ll be important for me to take some time off after this week and recharge for the rest of the season.
“With the lead I have in the Race to Dubai, I would like to play one or two more events, but being around for the birth of my child is much more important. Right now my schedule is to play Sun City, Race to Dubai and Australian Masters at the end of the year.”
Despite suffering from occasional bouts of fatigue, Donald sees it as his obligation to play both tours and believes competing globally has enhanced him as a golfer.
“It’s important to support both tours. The difficulty of playing both is that you have to play a certain number of events on each tour,” he added.
“I don’t see myself playing only in the US for a few reasons. One, I would never want to miss the Ryder Cup, and obviously not being a member of the European Tour would make me ineligible. And I also enjoy coming over here and supporting the tour.
“I think that, as a golfer, playing a global schedule has made me a better golfer. I’ve made my home in the US, my wife and my child are from there, my coach is there, so it would be a big upheaval to leave that tour and play just Europe.
“Combining both tours makes it more difficult and more challenging, but I think it also makes me a better player.”
Meanwhile, despite a seven-week layoff due to wrist injury, Álvaro Quirós, currently World Number 41, remains the best-ranked Spanish player, and is hoping for a solid performance this week in Madrid.
Quirós’s present goal is to regain his place in the world’s top 35 as soon as possible, and to complete his personal Grand Slam, the Spanish Slam, made up by the Tour events held in Spain.
The Spaniard will be aiming to add the Bankia Madrid Masters to his 2010 Open de España title, and although the long course suits his game, he will have contend with a strong field of European Tour winners.
“I feel stuck at present,” he said. “If I want to improve my ranking position I must perform better under pressure.
“I am working on my swing with my coach, José Rivero; our goal is to gain consistency. I am also working on my mental approach with a sports psychologist in order to improve my self-confidence."