This may only be the third Turkish Airlines Open, but the two previous renewals have provided brilliant TV spectacles. The inaugural event saw big-hitting Victor Dubuisson hold his nerve with the likes of Tiger Woods, Ian Poulter and an in-form Jamie Donaldson hot on his heels, whilst last year it was the turn of big-hitting Brooks Koepka as a combination of powerful driving and a hot putter won him the day.
As the course has five par-5’s and two driveable par-4’s, it’s hardly takes a rocket scientist to work out why two big hitters have prevailed, though plenty of skilled wedge players have also mastered the aforementioned holes to post high finishes.
I’m backing 5 players this week, with the first two selection definitely falling into the powerhouse category.
*All players were valuable at the forecast prices with too many bookies to mention at the time of writing.
Thomas Pieters 1 point each-way @ 33/1 (Various)
Two victories for the sweet swinging young Belgian have seen him rise to 97 in the world rankings, and it will only be a matter of time before he finds himself in the top 50. A couple of average performances followed his consecutive wins, but he bounced back with 6th place last time out, and his power should see him take to this place like the proverbial duck to water.
Kiradech Aphibarnrat 1 point each-way @ 40/1 (Various)
The young Thai has added consistency (recent form 1/MC/4/5/6) to his power and promise, and he’s only 40/1 because of his poor finish here in 2013. He’s a much better player now though and is another who should devour the par-5’s. Ranked 49th in the world, he also knows that another high finish should guarantee him a place in all of this season’s majors.
Ian Poulter 1 point each-way @ 25/1 (Various)
5th and 2nd here in the two renewals shows his liking for this course, whilst he also has a fantastic overall record at this time of year. Not had the best of years but, now he’s got the worry of hosting the British Masters off his back, he’s fancied to make a bold bid to make another Ryder Cup Team.
Andy Sullivan 1 point each-way @ 22/1 (Various)
Became the first 3-time winner on the European Tour when routing the field in the Portuguese Masters, and a rise to 47th in the world means he’s got the world at his feet if he can notch-up another big performance soon. 4th here last year, and if he turns up in anything like the same form as in Portugal he won’t be far away.
Chris Wood 1 point each-way @ 25/1 (Various)
Second to Sullivan in Portugal took his recent form figures to 4/9/2, and at 65th in the world rankings he knows a win will open up some big doors for him. Plenty of power, and good with a wedge, and he’s playing better than when 15th here in 2013.