Our golf expert gives you his predictions for the Turkish Airlines Open this week.
We enter the final stages of the European Tour season with three mouth watering events to get our teeth into before they start chomping on turkey and After Eights (other mint chocolate confectionery available). This week sees the return of the plush surroundings of the Regnum Resort in Antalya, Turkey. This will be the the third year on the trot hosting duties have fallen upon this track and players welcome the luxury and 5 star treatment they get here. The course itself is more or less a pushover with 18 and 20 under par winning the last two renewals. Olesen showed you don't need to hit many fairways on route to his victory in 2016. Rose as is expected did everything consistently when he won last year. Length off the tee is certainly no negative as attacking this course is the way forward. That being said the leaderboards have been a mixed bag of all sorts of talents so it is difficult to rule any one out of the running here based on their strengths or weaknesses.
Justin Rose was a little weak in contention last week with costly mistakes creeping in during the third round. More followed in round four and although it was tough conditions last weekend he really should have had enough in the locker to beat his two opponents. The 9/2 out there is of little interest to me given there is a right bunch of guys in behind who have got used to winning events down the last year or so. One lacklustre round here will no doubt prove costly and taking into account the errors he made last weekend it renders the price unbackable for most. Likewise Fleetwood at single figures is a difficult one to support. His last win came 25 tournaments ago in Dubai and despite becoming an absolute money making machine is easily passed over. There will be no tears being mopped up if either of these two go ahead and win this week whilst not on our betting slips.
It is always important not to get too caught up on course form when previewing events but Thorbjorn Olesen's (best price 16/1) record around here speaks volumes and for me he holds equally as good a chance as Fleetwood as lifting the title this week. The Dane definitely requires tracks that allows room off the tee for him to succeed and this is one of those venues that grants a little help. There is little punishment from the tee and providing Olesen brings his usual putting game to Turkey this week he will surely be in or around the top 5 come Sunday afternoon. 67-72 over the weekend at Sheshan was impressive as conditions were not easy and a 7th placed spot there is a sign of his ascent this season. Not many in this field can boast 5 tour wins in 4 years, not even Tommy Fleetwood. So with 35 under par posted in his last 8 rounds here at Regnum he must hold every chance of adding to his tally.
Lucas Bjerregaard's (best price 33/1) two European Tour titles have been won at 15 and 20 under par so is one of those considered when it comes to a birdie machine track like this. He will be looking to finish this year off in style being just outside the top 50 in the world. He has become a proper power hitter and ranks well in the stats I think are important this week. When we look to last year par 4 scoring was very high on the agenda. Aphibarnrat topped that stat finishing 6th overall and indeed 9 of the top 10 in par 4 scoring at Regnum last year finished the event inside the top 20. Lucas is a solid par 4 scorer and with his power game improving all the time must be a lively contender. It is difficult to gauge last weeks exploits finishing 16 over par amidst tough conditions. McIlroy finished 10 over so how much we can read into these performances is up for debate. Nevertheless he is playing great golf lately and 33/1 is a tasty enough price for me to get involved with.
Erik Van Rooyen (best price 80/1) has threatened to stamp his mark on the tour all season but weekends have proven a shade troublesome. Highlights have been 2nd in Joburg, 7th in Morocco, 4th in Donegal and 5th in Denmark. In Joburg he shot 20 under and Denmark 18 under so he has to be considered on these easier tracks. This would be a huge step up for the South African but he has proven many times this year just how capable he is. He is gaining experience and a win may not be too far away. 22nd last week in Sheshan will be an encouraging result having beaten plenty of the worlds finest on the big stage. It was also a welcome return to form given he had missed his last two cuts at the British Masters and the Dunhill Links. He ranks as one of the better par 4 performers in this field all year. His course debut this week but Rose and Olesen both won at this track first time out so it is not seen as a negative.
Matthew Southgate (best price 100/1) has only reached double figures under par twice all season so couldn't be considered a specialist on these easy tracks. However I think it would be foolish to ignore his last six rounds around this track. 69-65-69-69-68-67 is an impressive return for somebody not known for his consistency on tour. He finished 11th last year and 31st the year before which would have been better given it took him 2 rounds to get used to the layout. 19 under par for his last six here is hard to ignore and with only 6 in this field ranked above him in par 4 scoring he is a lively outsider in my eyes. Possibly a bit of a reach for him to win this event which is why I'll also have a small tickle on him to lead after round one.
I'll finish with two more at three figure prices with the first being in the burly figure of George Coetzee (best price 125/1). Coetzee fired in three tremendous rounds in 2016 with a second round of 73 ultimately proving his undoing finishing in a solo 5th spot. He is another par 4 specialist ranking 22nd on the tour this season. Like Olesen he relies on his putter to win events and the lack of punishment from the tee will suit him here. Not pulling up any trees lately but a decent course fit horse.
Finally I'll have a few quid on the Belgian Thomas Detry (best price 125/1). Only Rose ranks ahead of him in this field in par 4 scoring this year and although he hasn't quite achieved what we thought he might this season, it is not too late just yet. 14 and 16 under at the KLM and MID in September along with two 14 under par totals in Abu Dhabi and Dubai in January show his ability to go low on the easier tracks. Indeed his best performance on tour to date was a 16 under par total in the BMW International finish second there in 2017. Retains a lot of ability and worth playing at 3 figures. Ryan Fox, Matt Wallace and Adrian Otaegui were easy to make cases for also but we will hope we have invested in the right places.