Dave Tindall

Across the Pond

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Turkish Airlines Open Preview

Monday, October 30, 2017


 

We’re approaching the finishing line now on the Race to Dubai and the final stretch continues with this week’s Turkish Airlines Open.

 

This is the fifth leg of the European Tour’s Rolex Series – the premium tournament category – and, once more, there’s a $7million purse up for grabs.

 

The field comprises the leading 70 players from the Race to Dubai at the conclusion of the Andalucia Valderrama Masters, four tournament invitations and, in a bid to promote golf in Turkey, three locals.

 

Race to Dubai leader Tommy Fleetwood flies out to Turkey to try and build his lead at the top but Sergio Garcia (ranked second) and Jon Rahm (fourth) don’t make the trip.

 

That leaves WGC-HSBC Champions winner Justin Rose (third) and Tyrrell Hatton (fifth) as his nearest rivals with just this event, the Nedbank Golf Challenge and the concluding DP World Tour Championship to come.

 

For the second year running, Regnum Carya Golf & Spa Resort plays host.

 

Thorbjorn Olesen scored a three-shot victory last year although his seven-shot lead after 54 holes was whittled down to a single stroke by David Horsey at one point before the Dane kicked clear again.

 


The Course – Regnum Carya Golf & Spa Resort

 

The course is set in a pine forest and inspired by the classic heathland courses found in the UK. The par 71 measures 7,159 yards and features water on holes 5, 6, 10, 11, 13, 15, 17 and 18. Despite the rough being described as penal last year, it yielded plenty of birdies and the large, undulating greens were pretty easy to hit with virtually everybody in the top 20 finishers pelting 75% or more. The greens are Bermuda Tiff Eagle overseeded with Poa Trivialis.

 

 

Last year at Regnum Carya Golf & Spa Resort

 

-20 Thorbjorn Olesen (DD: 17, DA: 63, GIR: 8, Scr: 10, PA: 7, AA: 5)

-17 David Horsey (DD: 65, DA: 19, GIR: 31, Scr: 4, PA: 2, AA: 8)

-17 Haotong Li (DD: 12, DA: 6, GIR: 11, Scr: 25, PA: 9, AA: 1)

-15 Bernd Wiesberger (DD: 32, DA: 22, GIR: 2, Scr: 23, PA: 15, AA: 3)

-14 George Coetzee (DD: 6, DA: 13, GIR: 52, Scr: 3, PA: 5, AA: 2)

 

Notes: Most hit plenty of greens but scrambling was important when failing to do so and converting birdie chances was key.

 

 

Previous winners and top 5 finishers – all at the Montgomerie Maxx

 

2015 -22 Victor Dubuisson, -21 Jaco Van Zyl, -20 Kiradech Aphibarnrat, -19 Byeong-Hun An, -17 Chris Wood

 

2014 -17 Brooks Koepka, -16 Ian Poulter, -14 Henrik Stenson, -13 Miguel Angel Jimenez, Andy SullivanDanny WillettWade Ormsby

 

2013 -24 Victor Dubuisson, -22 Jamie Donaldson, -20 Justin RoseTiger Woods, -19 Ian Poulter, Raphael Jacquelin

 


The Weather 


Low scores are expected and the weather will probably do its best to help too. Yes, it's sunshine, pleasant temperatures in the 70s and modest winds all four days.

 

 

The Leading Contenders

 

Justin Rose

A season set to be defined by his near-miss at The Masters is now something very different after Rose plonked a WGC trophy on the table after coming from eight back on the final day to reel in Dustin Johnson and land the HSBC Champions. It had been coming after three T10s and a second place in the FedExCup Playoffs and Rose should still have plenty in the tank after taking a month off prior to China. He just so happens to like Turkey too after a third in this event in 2013 and a win at the 2012 Turkish Airlines World Golf Final – an unofficial matchplay event which included Tiger and  Rory. Third for GIR last week.

 

Henrik Stenson

Stenson admitted he arrived at the WGC-HSBC Champions in China looking for form and “some answers” after six weeks off and he got plenty by finishing T2, just two shots behind winner Justin Rose. It moved him to 11th on the Race to Dubai and he’s also signed up for the next few weeks (Nedbank and Dubai) so he’ll be looking to get as much out of this stretch as possible. As with Rose, it’s his debut at Carya but in two previous starts in this event he’s posted a seventh (2013) and a third (2014). Topped the Driving Accuracy stats last week and was third for GIR.

 

Tyrrell Hatton

For the second year running, Hatton arrives in Turkey ranked fifth on the Race to Dubai and he’s been one of the stars of the European Tour over the last two months. After a run of six missed cuts out of seven, he’s since gone 3-8-1-1-11 over his latest five starts, those wins coming in back-to-back weeks at the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship and Italian Open. A T10 at this venue last year boosts his appeal further while he was T26 and T19 at the previous host course (Montgomerie Maxx). Scrambling and putting exceptionally well at the moment.

 

Tommy Fleetwood

He’s still got a big lead at the top of the Race to Dubai (1st Fleetwood 4,050,351, 2nd Garcia 3,184,582, 3rd Rose 2,993,754) but with plenty of points up for grabs down this closing straight he may well have to throw in another big one to end the season as Europe’s No. 1. Fleetwood has kept the cash coming win with T6 at the Italian Open and T20 at the HSBC Champions and fired 67-68 on the weekend to finish T22 at Carya last year. That’s his best in four starts in the Turkish Airlines Open.

 

Matt Fitzpatrick

A presence on the leaderboard all week in China, Fitzpatrick eventually posted T9 at the WGC-HSBC and that’s now five top 15s on the spin for the Englishman – a run started with victory at the European Masters. He always seems to thrive at this time of year and his GIR and Scrambling numbers have taken a leap forward to help drive that improved form. The youngster was T26 in his only start at this event in 2015 although he did shoot a 63 in his second round at the Montgomerie Maxx.

 

Bernd Wiesberger

If anyone is approaching ‘course horse’ status at Carya, it’s Wiesberger. As well as last year’s event, it also staged a Challenge Tour tournament in 2010. The Austrian was T8 in that and then fired 66-70-66-67 for T4 here 12 months ago. After looking a little off the pace recently, he secured a morale-boosting top 10 finish (T9) at the WGC-HSBC Champions on Sunday and was ranked first for GIR. Currently 12th on the Race to Dubai so will want to grab a straight third finish in the season-long battle after taking 9th in both 2015 and 2016.

 

Kiradech Aphibarnrat

There’s absolutely no excuse not to spell his name correctly now as we’re seeing it displayed prominently on leaderboards just about every week. After capping off a run of five top 20s in six starts with second place in the Italian Open, the Thai opened with a 65 in the WGC-HSBC Champions before fading on the weekend to finish T24. Still a decent knock though and it nudged him up to 22nd on the Race to Dubai. Third at the Montgomerie Maxx in 2015, Aphibarnrat closed 67-69-70 at Carya to hoist up T25 in last year’s Turkish Airlines Open.

 

George Coetzee

Deserves his place in the top 10 in the betting due to a nice combination of converging trends. The South African shot 64-73-66-67 to finish fifth at this week’s venue 12 months ago and was also T12 on his first start in the event in 2013. As for recent form, he has bags of it. Coetzee wobbled in July and came back with a missed cut in Switzerland but since then he’s gone 3-7-15-47-6 and moved up to 43rd in the Race to Dubai.

 

Joost Luiten

A rather average season for the Dutchman could have a big ending. After dropping hints with T12 in Portugal, he was the only player to really push Sergio Garcia at Valderrama and eventually secured second place thanks to bookend 66s. Having cracked the top 15 on the Race to Dubai in three of the last four seasons, his 31st spot still needs improving though and keeping his putter hot after a dip probably holds the key. Luiten had two top 25s at the Montgomerie Maxx but, like many near the front of the betting, he’s seeing Carya for the first time.

 

Shane Lowry

The Irishman improved his finish each time in three starts at the Montgomerie Maxx (44-25-8) before skipping this event last year when the course changed. An emphasis on short-game skills should play into his hands though and the nods to heathland UK courses also bodes well. Lowry has a pair of top sevens, T12, T25 and T29 in his last half-dozen starts so gives the impression that there’s a big one coming soon. Sixth for Scrambling and fourth for Putting Average at Valderrama last time.


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Dave Tindall is former golf editor at Sky Sports.com in the UK and has been writing betting previews for the European Tour since 1997. He can be reached via e-mail on tindall_david@hotmail.com and on Twitter @davetindallgolf.
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