With the season’s final WGC in the record books following an intriguing battle between Rory McIlroy and Xander Schauffele, the European Tour gets down to the serious business of determining who wins the Race To Dubai title over the next 3 weeks. A trio of Rolex Series events to close the 2018/19 season kicks off this week in Turkey as the Tour heads back to the Montgomerie Maxx in Antalya, before hopping across to Sun City for the Nedbank next week and of course the Earth Course in Dubai for the season’s finale in a little over a fortnight’s time.
McIlroy’s impressive victory at Sheshan has pushed the Northern Irishman up to 5th in the R2D rankings, however it’s Bernd Wiesberger who still sits in pole position despite making no impact last week in Shanghai. Neither Rory nor 2nd place Jon Rahm are playing this week, which gives both Wiesberger and 3rd place Shane Lowry a golden opportunity to push ahead of their more illustrious opponents if they can produce a strong finish here this week.
Justin Rose heads the betting at around the 8/1 mark as he attempts a rare three-peat having won the past 2 Turkish Opens on a different course, however his irons will need to improve over recent outings if he’s going to complete his personal hat-trick of titles. Fellow Major Champions Patrick Reed and Shane Lowry rate as 11/1 and 16/1 chances respectively in this 78-man field which has no halfway cut.
Montgomerie Maxx Royal, Antalya, Turkey. Designer: Colin Montgomerie, 2008; Course Type: Resort; Par: 72; Length: 7,133 yards; Fairways: Bermuda/Rye; Rough: Bermuda/Rye; Greens: A1 Bentgrass; Stimp: 11.5ft.
Course Overview. The 7,133 yard, par 72 Montgomerie Maxx Royal track here in Antalya hosted its first event of any significance in 2013 with Victor Dubuisson emerging victorious, before the Frenchman won the title again 2 years later; world number 1 Brooks Koepka took top spot the year in between as he recorded his first career success when performing as a European Tour regular.
The 5 par-5s and 5 par-3s makes for a slightly unusual card here and the long holes proved pivotal on all 3 occasions that the course hosted this event, with Dubuisson’s 16-under for the par 5s in 2015 underlining the point. Pine trees line most fairways and water is a feature on eight of the holes (predominantly on the front 9), however fairways are reasonably generous with the emphasis being on second shot excellence into the slick, undulating Bentgrass greens.
Winning scores of -24, -17 and -22 mean that a player needs to be making plenty of birdies to be in with a chance of winning here on what’s essentially a resort course.
Tournament Stats. We’ve published some key player statistics for this week’s Turkish Airlines Open that will help to shape a view on players who traditionally play well at this event. As already noted, this week’s venue hosted the 2013-15 renewals only: Current Form | Tournament Form | First Round Leader Stats | Combi Stats.
Predictor Model. Our published Predictor Model is available here. As always you can build your own model using the variables available.
Winners & Prices. 2018: Justin Rose, 9/2; 2017: Justin Rose, 8/1; 2016: Thorbjorn Olesen, 125/1; 2015: Victor Dubuisson, 45/1; 2014: Brooks Koepka, 33/1; 2013: Victor Dubuisson, 80/1.
Weather Forecast. The latest weather forecast for Antalya is here. Light rain on Tuesday is the last precipitation that the course is forecast to see and from there the weather’s set fair for the tournament with sunshine, light winds and temperatures nudging 80 Fahrenheit each day.
Tournament Trends & Key Factors. Analysing the final stats of the top-3 finishers from the events held here at the Montgomerie Maxx gives us a little more insight into the type of player suited here:
- 1st, Victor Dubuisson (-22). 292 yards (25th), 59.6% fairways (37th), 69.4% greens in regulation (37th), 72.7% scrambling (11th), 1.58 putts per GIR (2nd)
- 2nd, Jaco Van Zyl (-21). 287 yards (35th), 80.8% fairways (29th), 79.2% greens in regulation (5th), 73.3% scrambling (10th), 1.61 putts per GIR (4th)
- 3rd, Kiradech Aphibarnrat (-20). 301 yards (12th), 61.5% fairways (29th), 65.3% greens in regulation (56th), 72% scrambling (12th), 1.64 putts per GIR (6th)
- 1st, Brooks Koepka (-17). 301 yards (3rd), 53.8% fairways (48th), 80.6% greens in regulation (5th), 57.1% scrambling (37th), 1.67 putts per GIR (12th)
- 2nd, Ian Poulter (-16). 287 yards (34th), 59.6% fairways (29th), 77.8% greens in regulation (7th), 75% scrambling (3rd), 1.75 putts per GIR (39th)
- 3rd, Henrik Stenson (-14). 297 yards (7th), 71.2% fairways (10th), 81.9% greens in regulation (3rd), 38.5% scrambling (68th), 1.71 putts per GIR (25th)
- 1st, Victor Dubuisson (-24). 299 yards (15th), 53.8% fairways (52nd), 86.1% greens in regulation (5th), 80% scrambling (2nd), 1.69 putts per GIR (13th)
- 2nd, Jamie Donaldson (-22). 284 yards (57th), 63.5% fairways (27th), 81.9% greens in regulation (15th), 38.5% scrambling (66th), 1.56 putts per GIR (2nd)
- 3rd, Justin Rose (-20). 298 yards (17th), 76.9% fairways (4th), 83.3% greens in regulation (9th), 50% scrambling (51st), 1.65 putts per GIR (5th)
GIR was key in 2014 with 6 of the top 8 GIR performers occupying finishing positions inside the eventual top 9. Greens were easier to hit the year before in softer conditions which put more emphasis on putting performance assuming you weren’t off the pace with your irons, however 80% or more was still the target on that score. The dynamic changed in 2015 with firmer conditions in play which made greens harder to hold, however that didn’t impact the winning total with Victor Dubuisson grabbing his second Turkish Open title at 22-under.
On a course with 5 par-5s, ensuring you’re making birdie on at least half of the long holes here is critical to compiling a competitive enough score, however the 5 par-3s are fairly pivotal too. Every player in the top 10 in 2013 finished at least level par for the par 3s over the course of the week and only 2 of the top 10 in 2014 and 3 in the top 10 in 2015 finished the wrong side of par for the short holes.
Incoming Form: Looking at the Turkish Airlines Open in its entirety, there’s a mixed bag in terms of incoming form. All winners had recorded at least a top-10 finish in their last dozen events, however you’d expect that at the very least from players who’ve progressed to this stage of the season. Justin Rose was a short price for both of his wins due to his sparkling incoming form, however that’s balanced by the ever-inconsistent Thorbjorn Olesen who’d failed to make the weekend on 8 of his previous 11 starts.
Looking at events held here at the Montgomerie Maxx in isolation, each of the 3 winners from 2013 to 2015 had a top-10 finish in their last 8 starts, with Brooks Koepka winning his first professional title here in 2014 after a strong sequence of finishes on the European Tour:
- 2018: Justin Rose: 1/6/10/9/2/19/MC/2/2/4/8/3
- 2017: Justin Rose: 65/12/MC/4/54/63/MC/10/10/2/10/1
- 2016: Thorbjorn Olesen: 2/WD/MC/MC/MC/30/MC/MC/MC/50/MC/50
- 2015: Victor Dubuisson: MC/MC/20/12/10/MC/MC/50/18/27/43/32
- 2014: Brooks Koepka: 51/MC/MC/67/15/38/3/11/9/8/4/48
- 2013: Victor Dubuisson: 61/MC/3/MC/53/MC/18/17/MC/3/17/44
Event Form: Bearing in mind that the event hasn’t been held here since 2015, form from the previous winners may be little more than interesting background info:
- 2018: Justin Rose: 3/1
- 2017: Justin Rose: 3
- 2016: Thorbjorn Olesen: 29/72/41
- 2015: Victor Dubuisson: 1/15
- 2014: Brooks Koepka: Debut
- 2013: Victor Dubuisson: Debut
For me, the Montgomerie Maxx is a second shot course that demands strong Strokes Gained on Approach in order to succeed. The 5 par-5s are likely to prove pivotal and the dimensions of the long holes encourage more aggressive players to take a chance, with birdies and eagles up for grabs for those who are successful.
My selections are as follows: