Turkish Airlines Open

With no event on the PGA Tour until next week’s Mayakoba Classic, this week we focus on the European Tour’s Turkish Airlines Open at the Montgomerie Maxx Royal.

The Turkish Airlines Open has been a mainstay on the European Tour’s schedule since 2013 and has always played a crucial role in the end of season Race to Dubai standings.

The first three editions of the Turkish Airlines Open were held at the Montgomerie Maxx Royal. And this year, after a three-year stint at its close neighbour the Regnum Carya, the event returns to the Maxx, which therefore helps analyse some course form for those that took part in 2013, 2014 or 2015.

When taking a look at the leaderboards from those years, and even including the past three years at the Regnum Carya, it’s evident that English players have had a lot of success here. In 2013, three of the top 10 were English, with 10 of the top 25 being from England.

From then on, we’ve seen five in the top 10 in 2014, nine in the top 25 a year later, six in the top 25 in 2016, an impressive 11 in the top 25 in 2017, and five in the top 25 again last year.

With that in mind, it’s therefore no surprise to see three of the top five in the betting market consist of Englishman.

Winner in both 2017 and 2018, Justin Rose has the opportunity to make it a hat-trick in Turkey this week. Even at 8/1 he will tempt many after Rory Mcilroy justified his short price last week with a victory and Justin Thomas doing the same at the CJ Cup, but with Rose’s game looking far from as good as those two, it’s quite easy to ignore the Englishman’s short price this week.

So firstly, looking slightly outside of those leading the market, someone who looks to be of value this week is Eddie Pepperell (40/1) as an each way bet.

In three visits to Turkey he has finished T50 in 2013, 10th in 2014 and T6 in 2017, showing he feels more than at home in Antalya. And despite 2019 being a bit of a mixed bag for Pepperell, he has posted a T3 at The Players, T2 at the British Masters and a T4 at the Irish Open.

His form fell off slightly towards the end of the season, but more recently the Englishman has shown some glimmers of his best golf with a T15 at the Dunhill before a T6 in his most recent tournament, the Portugal Masters.

Admittedly, winning in quite a talented field which includes Rose, Patrick Reed, Francesco Molinari and Shane Lowry seems unlikely, but Pepperell is more than capable of holding his own and finishing for a place as he showed at The Players earlier this year.

Barring a dramatic change in the weather forecast, Turkey is often a place where players make a lot of birdies, with the average score at the Montgomerie Maxx being -21. Plus, with it not being a particularly long course in length, it opens up the possibility of anybody winning.

This does not rule out the possibility of long drivers overpowering this course though. With it not being extremely penalising from the rough, the long hitters are able to pull out the driver a lot this week and give themselves shorter approaches than usual to par 4s and par 5s.

For this reason, in addition to his consistent form of late, my second pick for this week is Kurt Kitayama at 50/1 with Grosvenor Sport.

The 26-year-old American who is plying his trade on the European Tour ranks in the middle of the park for most statistics including putting, approach play and Strokes Gained: Tee to Green, but his driving distance is phenomenal. At just 5’7, he ranks fourth in the driving distance category with a whopping average of 312.06 yards.

And as already mentioned, his form heading into this week has been very good, with his last three events reading: 3, 4, T28.

This may be his first visit to Turkey, but he has shown his ability to mix it with the big boys and proved his class in the previous two Rolex Series events, which makes him a good bet for this week.

Finally, my third and last pick for the Turkish Airlines Open is Bernd Wiesberger at 22/1 with Bet365.

After a lot of time off the course with injury, Wiesberger’s full return to the tour this year has been simply incredible. Three wins this year, two victories in Rolex Series events with a T2 in another and 10 top 25s, Wiesberger has moved from as low as 364th in the world rankings to just 24th in the current standings.

Top of the Race to Dubai standings, a win or top five will only propel him further into the lead and away from the absent Jon Rahm this week, giving the Austrian even more motivation to add to his tally.

Of those at the top of the market, he and Tyrrell Hatton (18/1) stand out the most with Rose, Reed, Lowry and Molinari not exactly having their best game heading to Turkey.

But, due to his fantastic ability to convert near misses into victories this year, something Hatton has notoriously struggled with, I see no reason why Wiesberger cannot pip the Englishman and add another piece of silverware to the trophy cabinet this week.

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