Turkish Airlines Open Preview

Victor Dubuisson is defending champion at the Turkish Airlines Open in Antalya

Victor Dubuisson defends Turkish Airlines Open
Victor Dubuisson defends Turkish Airlines Open
(Image credit: Getty Images)

It’s the penultimate event of the European Tour’s Final Series this week. Victor Dubuisson of France defends the title against a strong field in the Turkish Airlines Open by the Ministry of Youth and Sport.

Lowdown: It’s the penultimate event of the European Tour’s Final Series this week. Victor Dubuisson of France defends the title against a strong field in the Turkish Airlines Open by the Ministry of Youth and Sport.

There’s a limited field of 78 for this event. The start sheet comprises players available from the top-60 on the Official World Golf Ranking, seven tournament invitations, and then the remainder of the field is made up of the top-ranked men on the Race to Dubai.

17 players placed inside the top-60 on the Official World Golf Ranking will tee it up at the Montgomerie Maxx Royal course in Antalya. Sergio Garcia, Henrik Stenson and Martin Kaymer will play, so too will Englishmen Ian Poulter, Luke Donald and Lee Westwood.

As the Race to Dubai reaches its climax only three men could theoretically prevent Rory McIlroy being crowned European Tour No. 1 for 2014. Jamie Donaldson, Sergio Garcia and Marcel Siem would all need to win both this event in Turkey and next week’s DP World Tour Championship in Dubai to have a chance. They would also have to hope that Rory doesn’t perform well in the season-ending tournament. Stranger things have happened in golf, but not many.

With such a significant purse to share out this week, a number of players in the field will be aiming to secure their place in the top 60 on the Race to Dubai to make next week’s DP World Tour Championship. Currently in 60th place is England’s Eddie Pepperell. He’ll be hoping for a good showing this week to guarantee his spot in Dubai. Those chasing will be trying to force their way in. Less than 200,000 points separates Pepperell from Scott Jamieson in 82nd - the last man to make the field in Turkey – and with 1,666,600 points available to the winner this week – everybody who starts could make a significant climb up the standings.

This is only the second time this event has been held on the European Tour. Last year, France’s Victor Dubuisson recorded a memorable, breakthrough victory. He birdied three of the last four holes to finish two clear of Jamie Donaldson who closed with a 63 that included a hole-in-one at the 16th.

Opened for play in 2008, the course at Montgomerie Maxx Royal is one of the very best in the Antalya region. Designed by the Ryder Cup legend, together with European Golf Design, it’s set across 257 acres of undulating terrain, with fairways carpeted in sandy turf meandering through mature pine forests and past a total of eight lakes.

It may stretch to over 7,100 yards, but this is a layout where strategy is key. There are some good “risk-reward” drives and the rolling fairways mean a shot travelling too far can roll into one of the cleverly placed bunkers or tricky waste areas that bound a number of fairways.

But, it’s also a course that can produce low scoring, see Dubuisson’s winning total of 24-under-par last season. The greens are excellent and if a player gets hot with the putter, there are plentiful birdie and eagle chances.

The weather forecast for the week is mixed. Thursday and Friday should be fair but rain looks likely to move in over Saturday.

Venue: The Montgomerie Maxx Royal, Antalya, Turkey Date: Nov 13-16 Course stats: par 72, 7,132 yards Purse: $7,000,000 Defending Champion: Victor Dubuisson (-24)

TV Coverage: Thursday 13 – Sky Sports 4 from 9am Friday 14 – Sky Sports 4 from 9am Saturday 15 – Sky Sports 4 from 9am Sunday 16 – Sky Sports 4 from 8.30am

Player Watch: Jamie Donaldson – The Welshman was runner-up in this event last year and he’s one of only three that could challenge Rory McIlroy for the European Tour Number 1 title. He’s been on good form since a great debut in the Ryder Cup and will be looking to continue his good run this week.

Nicolas Colsaerts – The Belgian has come back into form in recent tournaments. He was tied fourth in Wales, second in Portugal and tied sixth in the BMW Masters. He faded on the weekend in that last event, but produced superb opening rounds of 66 and 64.

Thorbjorn Olesen – He won in Australia, played solidly in the BMW Masters and was tied sixth last week in the HSBC Champions. He’s a hugely talented player who is due a victory in an event of this stature.

Key hole: 18th. A par-5 of over 550 yards it will be reachable in two for the longer hitters. The fairway is separated into sections by waste areas so distance control is key. Water lurks left of the green and bunkers wait short of the putting surface. There’s definitely potential for the odd eagle here and that could be crucial as the event reaches its climax.

Fergus Bisset
Contributing Editor

Fergus is Golf Monthly's resident expert on the history of the game and has written extensively on that subject. He is a golf obsessive and 1-handicapper. Growing up in the North East of Scotland, golf runs through his veins and his passion for the sport was bolstered during his time at St Andrews university studying history. He went on to earn a post graduate diploma from the London School of Journalism. Fergus has worked for Golf Monthly since 2004 and has written two books on the game; "Great Golf Debates" together with Jezz Ellwood of Golf Monthly and the history section of "The Ultimate Golf Book" together with Neil Tappin , also of Golf Monthly. 

Fergus once shanked a ball from just over Granny Clark's Wynd on the 18th of the Old Course that struck the St Andrews Golf Club and rebounded into the Valley of Sin, from where he saved par. Who says there's no golfing god?