Turkish Airlines Open: November 4-7
First staged just three years ago, this will be the fourth edition of the Turkish Airlines Open. It’s always been one of the European Tour’s Final Series events and for the second year in-a-row, the Turkish Airlines Open kicks off the series – as it also did in 2013.
The Fall Series is for the top-60 players on the European Tour’s Race to Dubai money list (plus invites), after the Portugal Masters. In contrast to the first three years, when four events were played, this year’s Fall Series consists of only three events with last week’s event, the WGC-HSBC, quite rightly, dropped from the series.
It really didn’t make any sense having a tournament in the Final Series featuring ineligible players who hadn’t qualified for the series. The three winners of the HSBC, while it was part of the Final Series, were all PGA Tour players that rarely even played on the European Tour.
Unfortunately security scares have spooked a number of players this week and it’s very disappointing to see just three players from the top-11 in the R2D standings in the line-up.
Next week’s Final Series event is the Nedbank Challenge and the series finishes, as it’s always done, at the DP World Tour Championship in Dubai in a fortnight’s time.
Regnum Carya Golf & Spa Resort, Antalya, Turkey
Par 71, 7,127 yards
After three years at the Montgomerie Maxx Royal, the event moves to the Regnum Carya Golf & Spa Resort which only opened in 2008.
Designed by Thomson, Perret & Lobb (the design practice founded by the Australian multiple Open Champion, Peter Thomson) Regnum Carya Golf & Spa Resort is described as Turkey’s first heathland inspired golf course. Surrey’s Walton Heath and Sunningdale are said to be the inspiration behind the venue.
Set on undulating sand hills, the course runs through a pine forest and more than one million heather plants have been added to the existing areas of indigenous heather to create the course’s distinctive look.
Three small lakes are in play on the fifth, ninth and 14th holes and the heather-topped high-faced bunkers look more likely to be an issue that the H2O.
The greens are described as large, undulating and fast and many are said to feature multiple plateaus, creating ‘greens within greens’.
Carya was used for the Turkish Airlines Challenge on the Challenge Tour in 2010 when Leicester’s Charlie Ford got the better of Sweden’s Oscar Floren in a playoff in what was only his second start of the Challenge Tour.
First Three Winners
2013 – Victor Dubuisson -24 (Montgomerie Maxx Royal course)
2013 – Brooks Koepka -17 (Montgomerie Maxx Royal course)
2015 – Victor Dubuisson -22 (Montgomerie Maxx Royal course)
What Will it Take to Win the Turkish Airlines Open?
Just when we were getting used to the Montgomerie Maxx Royal, the tournament switches to a new venue and we’re all in the dark again as to what type of player will prosper but having researched the course it certainly looks a different type of examination.
The Maxx suited the powerful big-hitters but I suspect this venue will suit the more strategic and accurate types.
It appears to be a venue where players are going to be looking to find the right portions of the fairways to attack the right sections of the greens and every hole is framed by pine trees. Indiscriminately whacking it miles here won’t get the job done.
Is There an Angle In?
Whenever we go to a new venue we’re guessing to a certain extent. Although we know Charlie Ford won here on the Challenge Tour with an 11-under-par total, there are no stats for the event and it’s really difficult to gauge what to expect but given the course was inspired by Surrey’s heathland courses it makes sense to look at form at Wentworth.
Dating back to 1926, Harry Colt’s tree-lined masterpiece has been the host venue of the BMW PGA Championship since 1984 so we don’t lack for course form there and with so little else to go on, that seems like a sensible place to start.
The par five ninth, 11th and 14th were the three easiest holes on the course in 2010 but the course was played as a par 72 whereas it’s a par 71 this time around and the 11th is a now a par four. The par five seventh actually averaged over-par six years ago so don’t assume that’s a simple birdie hole.
Some hole lengths have changed this time around but in 2010, the par four 16th was the third toughest and the penultimate hole, another par four, averaged 4.21 and was the second hardest hole all week. The par four 18th ranked the 14th toughest and averaged below par for the week so bear that in mind if you’re trading in-running on Sunday.
Bernd Wiesberger finished eighth here on the Challenge Tour in 2010 and prior to a slightly disappointing week in China, where he finished 35th after failing to break 70, he was in decent form, so it stands to reason that the market determines that he’s the man to beat, but he’s not for me. Wiesberger often looks a poor price given how infrequently he wins and that’s again the case here.
Following Andy Sullivan around at the Portugal Masters was a painful experience a fortnight ago. He split fairway after fairway and found greens with relentless regularity but his putting was painful to watch. The winner, Padraig Harrington, who beat Sullivan by a stroke, averaged 25 putts per round. Sullivan averaged more than 30 and yet he only lost by a stroke. I don’t usually like playing players that haven’t putted well but a small improvement on the greens will see him go very close and he’s the man to beat.
Tyrrell Hatton is hard to weigh up. After his brilliant win at the Dunhill Links Championship he’s finished ninth at the British Masters and 23rd at the WGC-HSBC so has he started the understandable slump after his first European Tour win or did he merely enjoy a pressure-less stroll around Shanghai? I wouldn’t be in the least bit surprised if he refocused and contended here but he’s just as likely to have another quiet week and I’m more than happy to swerve him.
I quite liked the look of Anirban Lahiri, who plays the tree-lined Delhi golf Club really well, but how he’ll pick himself up after blowing a four-stroke lead at the CIMB Classic last time out is anyone’s guess and that puts me off.
I also think this venue will suit the Masters Champ, Danny Willett, but he’s been playing some ropey stuff of late and looks one to swerve. My only back before the off is Andy Sullivan, who played so well last time out that he’s impossible to ignore.
BACK – Andy Sullivan at 14.5
*You can follow me on Twitter @SteveThePunter