7th to 10th November
The Turkish Airlines Open (8-11 November) is this week’s tournament on the European Tour. It’s the first of three successive Rolex Series events that will ultimately decide which of Europe’s top golfers wins the Race to Dubai title in three weekends time.
This will be only the seventh edition of the Turkish Airlines Open and the most important thing to know when studying the formbook this week is that the tournament has returned to the Montgomerie Maxx Royal course in Antalya this year, where it was staged between 2013 and 2015. The event was played at the Carya Course in Antalya from 2016-2018.
Course designer Colin Montgomerie gives his name to the Montgomerie Maxx Royal course which measures 7,133 yards and is a Par 72. Features include water hazards and tree-lined fairways but, as this is a course enjoyed by tourists for most of the year, landing areas off the tees are more generous than many courses used on the European Tour.
The greens were excellent in past renewals and are set to run at around 11.5 on the Stimpmeter. Weather conditions are also forecast to be calm, so the scoring may well match that of past editions here.
Two of those three tournaments were won by Victor Dubuisson, with totals of –22 and –24, whilst Brooks Koepka split those wins with a –17 total. Both of those players made plenty of birdies on the five par 5’s when winning and this year’s winner is expected to have to do the same. The winner is also likely to have his irons dialed in, as it’s important to hit the correct portion of the greens which are extremely undulating in places.
It’s no surprise that the bookies have installed Justin Rose as the 2019 Turkish Airlines Open favourite, but there some big reasons for taking him on. He’s bidding for a rare hat-trick of wins in the same event, which is hard to pull-off. He’s also won the last two editions on a different layout to this year’s, be it he finished third at the Montgomerie Maxx Royal on his only previous visit in 2013. He also comes here in worse form than in the previous two years, with his recent more-wayward-than-normal iron-play a major concern considering this is a second-shot layout.
Patrick Reed is the second favourite and the talented American could go close having returned to something like his best in recent weeks. The problem with backing him is this is his first venture to Turkey and you’re second guessing whether he’ll take to the course and the country. That’s something I don’t want to do when the odds are just 11/1.
But I’m happy to make Shane Lowry the first of this week’s Turkish Airlines Open free tips. The Irishman has been playing well enough to post three top-15 finishes in his last five events, but I think he’s been conserving most of his energy for a three-week assault on the Race to Dubai title.
He’s also posted three successive top-14 finishes in this event, with the first of those being an 8th placed finish when the tournament was last played at the Montgomerie Maxx Royal. He’s currently third in the Race to Dubai standings and a big finish here could help him topple the two players above him, Bernd Wiesberger and John Rahm.
I’m going further down the field for the second of this week’s tips for the Turkish Airlines Open, as Victor Perez looks a nice price for a player that’s been playing some great golf following his win in the Alfred Dunhill Links. He finished fourth in last week’s WGC in China and, hopefully, that will have made him hungry for more success rather than tiring him out. This big-hitter should also relish the five par 5’s and I think he’s got the power-game to go low this week.
A player that doesn’t seem to get the respect he deserves is Guido Migliozzi. The 22-year-old Italian has yet to master the art of consistency, but I think he’ll take to the challenge of this golf course.
His two wins this season have come on tree-lined courses and this sometimes wayward-driver should appreciate the extra room off the tee. He’s a real birdie machine if he gets his eye in and triple-figure prices seem generous for a proven winner in a field of less than 80 players.