The European Tour and its all-important Race to Dubai move into the closing stretch this week with the start of the playoff events. The Turkish Airlines Open is one of the most popular four days on the tour amongst players and we have an excellent renewal in store in Antalya.
The strong field is full of players with a genuine chance of winning including the resurgent Thomas Pieters who stands out in the betting at huge odds of 40/1 with Betfred.
After three years round the corner at Regnum Carya Golf Club, the Turkish Airlines Open returns to the Montgomerie Maxx Royal Golf Club. As the name suggests, the venue was designed by Colin Montgomerie who has crafted a layout capable of hosting world class golfers as well as the tourists who play on the 7,133 par 72 layout for most of the year.
The first thing you’ll notice when looking at the course’s card is that it contains five par fives and five par threes. This gives an instant advantage to the longer hitters who can capitalise on the par fives, that is, providing they don’t get tripped up by the shorter holes. Driving distance has been an important indicator of success at the Montgomerie Maxx but caddies will drill the importance of hitting greens in regulation into their players’ heads.
Light rain on Thursday should make it easier to hold the greens on the first couple of days. It will be tougher to do that if and when the course firms up over the weekend though so players who can hoist their ball high into the air and/or utilise a dependable short game when they miss the greens will come to the fore.
|Montgomerie Maxx Royal||Antalya, Turkey||7,133 Yards||$7,000,000|
Justin Rose is looking for his third straight win in Antalya this week. The Englishman played some stunning golf in the last two renewals of the Turkish Airlines Open but he will have to work hard to take that sort of form from Carya to the Montgomerie Maxx.
Rose will likely need to better the score of -18 that he shot in 2017 as scoring is expected to be very good but he won’t have to face either of the two previous Turkish Airlines Open winners at this course as Victor Dubuisson didn’t qualify via his Race to Dubai rankings and Brooks Koepka is no longer a member of the European Tour.
|Year||Winner||Course||To Par||Winning Margin|
|2018||Justin Rose||Regnum Carya||-17||Playoff|
|2017||Justin Rose||Regnum Carya||-18||1 Stroke|
|2016||Thorbjorn Olesen||Regnum Carya||-20||3 Strokes|
|2015||Victor Dubuisson||Montgomerie Maxx||-22||1 Stroke|
|2014||Brooks Koepka||Montgomerie Maxx||-17||1 Stroke|
Analysis: Expect Another Low One
The Montgomerie Maxx was popular with the players during its time as the Turkish Airlines Open host and many of those in the field this week will be very happy to see its return. Although it looks a little foreboding to amateurs with tree-lined fairways and some fairly tricky pin positions, top level pros can take this layout apart when they get the sort of perfect golfing conditions expected for much of this year’s tournament.
From a technical perspective, what players do with their approach shots will prove to be key this week. Obviously, those who can take advantage of their power off the tee with top quality irons and wedges will have an edge but it may well come down to a test of mentality as notching the required amount of birdies will be relentless.
Pieters Can Boost His Race to Dubai Hopes
Thomas Pieters knows that he is a real outsider when it comes to winning the Race to Dubai this season. He would need a huge run in the playoff events but there’s no reason why he can’t start that run in Turkey this week. He played well enough in his sole appearance at the Montgomerie Maxx back in 2015 to have some good memories of this layout and arrives in Turkey on the back of some encouraging form after a considerable amount of time in the doldrums (at least by his own high standards).
The thing that most people know about Pieters’ game is that he is one of the longest drivers on the European Tour. The Belgian has more than enough power to put himself in pole position off the tee on the longest holes at the Montgomerie Maxx. His ball striking and shot making are underrated aspects of his game though. Pieters’ iron play has been good enough this season to rank eighth for strokes gained approaching the green on the European Tour.
It was that combination of power off the tee and excellent approach play that saw Pieters return to the winners’ circle at the Czech Masters and he can claim win number two of the season in Turkey at a generous 40/1 with Betfred.
Westwood Can Contend
Lee Westwood very much has what it takes to score very well at the Montgomerie Maxx. He is one of the best drivers of a golf ball in European Tour history and has been working very hard on his ball striking in recent months. Whilst he is embarking on a new chapter of his career where he must be more sensible with his schedule, Westwood is still very much capable of competing with the best in the world.
The stats paint a good picture for Westwood. He ranks sixth on the European Tour this season for strokes gained approaching the green. That stat will be key this week so, combined with his excellence off the tee, Westwood’s ball striking could well take him into contention at 80/1 with Coral.
Final Verdict: Thomas Pieters to Win
When Thomas Pieters announced himself to the wider golfing world with his excellent performance in the 2016 Ryder Cup he looked to have the world at his feet. The struggles that have followed his appearance at Hazeltine have taught him a great deal. He’s improved his demeanour on the course and has put the hours into the technical side of his game. That hard work paid off with the win in the Czech Republic and can see him securing a huge win this week in Turkey at 40/1 with Betfred.
About the Turkish Airlines Open
The Turkish Airlines Open has been part of the European Tour since 2013 and has always been played in the province of Antalya on Turkey’s Mediterranean cost. The competition was part of the European Tour Final Series until 2016.
From 2017, it became a Rolex Series event. Regnum Carya Golf Club and Montgomerie Maxx Royal have hosted the event both of which offer suitably picturesque backdrops to what has become a popular tournament with many players on the European Tour.
Frenchman Wins Two of the First Three
Victor Dubuisson, the man from Cannes, became the first Turkish Airlines Open winner, seeing off Welshman Jamie Donaldson by two strokes at Montgomerie Maxx in 2013, with the likes of Justin Rose, Tiger Woods, Ian Poulter and Henrik Stenson not far behind. Dubuisson shot a very impressive score of 264 – with rounds of 67, 65, 63 and 69 – which was 24 shots under par, a score that has not been bettered in this tournament (up to an including the 2019 event).
That was Dubuisson’s first European Tour success, but just two years later, Dubuisson finished top of the pile once again. This time, the French star beat South African Jaco van Zyl by a single stroke after scoring rounds of 69, 64, 67 and 66 to finish 22 under par. As of the end of the 2019 season, these two victories on Turkish turf have been Dubuisson’s only European Tour triumphs, though he’s had a handful of second and third place finishes over the years, including a runner-up spot in the WGC Match Play in 2014.
Rose Makes it Two on the Spin
Despite the short history of the event, English ace Justin Rose became the second man to win the Turkish Airlines Open twice when he won the 2018 tournament at Regnum Carya Golf Club. A year earlier, Rose finished a stroke ahead of Nicolas Colsaerts and Dylan Frittelli to win his first crown in Turkey.
Rose was involved in a thriller with China’s Li Haotong in 2018. The pair finished on 267 (17 under par), which resulted in a playoff to decide the winner. Things were all-square after the first playoff hole, but the next hole didn’t go well for Li, who needed three putts! Rose was therefore essentially gifted the win in the end and in the process he became the first player to win back-to-back Turkish Airlines Opens and indeed the first to successfully defend a tournament in the Rolex Series.
Hatton Edges Thriller in Turkey
After Rose’s wins in 2017 and 2018, Tyrrell Hatton kept the English flag flying in Turkey by winning the seventh Turkish Airlines Open in 2019. Having won two Alfred Dunhill Links Championships as well as the 2017 Italian Open, victory in Antalya was Hatton’s fourth European Tour win of his career.
In what was arguably the best Turkish Airlines Open to date, Hatton prevailed in a six-man playoff. It was the first six-player sudden-death playoff on the European Tour since the 2003 Alfred Dunhill Championship, which was won by Mark Foster. The English ace edged past Benjamin Hebert, Kurt Kitayama, Victor Perez, Matthias Schwab and Erik van Rooyen under the floodlights at Montgomerie Maxx. Hatton had to hold his nerve for four playoff holes and looked out of it at one point before chipping in from a tough lie.
English Winners of the Turkish Airlines Open – 2013 to 2019
|Year||Player||Score (To Par)||Runner(s)-up|
|2019||Tyrrell Hatton||264 (-20)||Benjamin Hébert, Kurt Kitayama, Victor Perez, Matthias Schwab and Erik van Rooyen|
|2018||Justin Rose||267 (-17)||Li Haotong|
|2017||Justin Rose||266 (-18)||Nicolas Colsaerts and Dyland Frittelli|
Single Victor from United States
The only player from the United States, indeed from outside of Europe, to win the Turkish Airlines Open was Brooks Koepka. The four-time major winner and former world number won the 2014 event – which was given the catchy title, Turkish Airlines Open by the Ministry of Youth and Sports – by a single stroke from England’s Ian Poulter, with Sweden’s Henrik Stenson a couple of shots further back.
Koepka shot rounds of 69, 67, 70 and 65 to finish 17 under par. Poulter was kicking himself though – his scores in the first, second and final rounds of 64, 66 and 67 should have given him the victory but an awful (but his high standards) score of 75 in the third round meant he had to settle for second.
The Turkish Airlines Open victory was Koepka’s first on the European Tour and the only one that in not co-sanctioned by the PGA Tour. He has won the US Open twice (in 2017 and 2018) and the US PGA Championship twice (in 2018 and 2019), though we fully expect him to add to his major tally at some point in the future.