Paul Williams

Paul Williams' Turkish Airlines Open Tips 2019

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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.

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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:

2015:

  • 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)

2014:

  • 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)

2013:

  • 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:

Victor Perez 1.5pts EW 45/1 (5EW, ¼) with Unibet

Having been let down by a couple of short prices over the past couple of weeks in Matt Wallace and Hideki Matsuyama, I’m swerving the top of the market here this week in Turkey. Just Rose will be the talk of the town of course as he looks to join an elite band of players who’ve won the same event 3 times in succession, however aside from the pressure that achieving that feat might bring, he’s also going to need to improve considerably with his approach play to compile a winning score here this week.

Tyrrell Hatton’s flying round of 65 to close in Shanghai hasn’t gone unnoticed by the bookies, otherwise I might have taken a chance on him; instead I’m backing Victor Perez at a far longer price who’s already captured a classy event this season when he broke his European Tour maiden at the Alfred Dunhill Links.

As ever in golf betting, finding some correlation between courses and events can lead a punter down a certain path and with the Montgomerie Maxx perhaps there’s enough crossover with the Dunhill Links to pursue that train of thought. With the 3 events held here between 2013 and 2015, the 2 winners Victor Dubuisson and Brooks Koepka have 5 top-10 Dunhill Links finishes between them from just 11 combined starts, so siding with this year’s victor may not be a bad place to start.

Of course there’s no back story this week for Perez like there was at St Andrews, at least not to my knowledge, however now that the dust has settled it appears that the European Tour rookie has his sights set on another victory and one which would surely add his name to the Henry Cotton shortlist if he were to win here or in the following 2 weeks.

16th at Le Golf National was a strong effort coming just a few weeks after his breakthrough success, however it was last week’s 4th place finish at Sheshan on his WGC debut which gets him the nod here. 65 to open and 66 to close was an impressive performance and driven by a field-leading effort on the par-5s; that should give him massive confidence on the longer holes here this week which are so pivotal to success.

At 58th in the OWGR, Victor now has a very realistic chance of breaking into the world’s top-50 before year end and that’s massive for a player who’s yet to complete his rookie season. Averaging over 300 yards from off the tee and ranking 13th for Strokes Gained Approach is an ideal combination for this layout and with so much for him still to play for, I can see him becoming another French success story here at the Montgomerie Maxx. Result: 2nd, lost play-off

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Kiradech Aphibarnrat 1.5pts EW 45/1 (7EW, 1/5) with Paddy Power

If there’s course form correlation between the Dunhill Links and those 3 events held here at the Montgomerie Maxx, then the same can be said of the DP World Tour Championship which is hosted at the Earth Course. Now there may be an element of the obvious in this as the same cast will largely play these limited field, season-ending events, however there’s enough crossover to give Kiradech Aphibarnrat the nod here this week.

2-time winner here Victor Dubuisson has a sparkling record at the Earth Course with 3 top-4 finishes to his name, plus with names like Justin Rose, Ian Poulter, Henrik Stenson, Andy Sullivan, Danny Willett and Rory McIlroy all having either won or finished runner-up in Dubai as well as having featured here, there’s enough crossover to investigate further in my view. Of the players teeing it up this week who already have a top-5 to their name at the Earth Course, Kiradech holds the most appeal for me given he’s finished 2nd and 9th on his last 2 Dubai outings and may just be rounding into some form heading into this week.

2019 hasn’t been the best for the burly Thai, despite starting the year as a full member on the PGA Tour and racking up early top-5 finishes at the WGC Mexico Championship and Byron Nelson Championship. Lots of dross in between times has seen Aphibarnrat slip outside the OWGR top-50 for the first time since the start of 2018 and if he’s going to regain that position for the end of the year then he needs to take action fast. 8th behind Justin Thomas at the CJ Cup on his last start was a much improved result though, driven by massively improved par-5 scoring and a rank of 4th for ball-striking, both of which fit nicely for this week.

One thing we know with the 30 year-old is that he’s an outstanding putter when on his game who’s capable of making the requisite birdies here to contend, which is reinforced by the fact that he finished 3rd here at the Montgomerie Maxx in 2015, ranking 6th for putting in the process. Most of his career wins have come within a few weeks of a decent performance which hinted at some good form, and with plenty of reasons to perform I suspect we’ll see a strong effort from Aphibarnrat this week. Result: T56

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Guido Migliozzi 1pt EW 110/1 (5EW, 1/4) with bet365

Adri Arnaus was tempting this week as he seeks to break through at European Tour level, however at twice the price I’m happy to back Guido Migliozzi who falls into a very similar category to Arnaus in my mind, yet has already notched 2 trophies this season as he looks to win the Henry Cotton Rookie of the Year award.

As well as his 2019 successes at the Magical Kenya Open and Belgian Knockout, the talented Italian also has 3 Alps Tour titles to his name and at the age of 22 has already proven himself to be one of those golfers who’s simply not afraid to win. Consistency is something that will come in his game as he matures and sees courses multiple times, however for now his good weeks are seemingly interspersed with plenty of bad weeks which makes him perfect for an outside punt. The fact that this course hasn’t been used for the past 3 renewals will be somewhat of a leveller and I suspect that he’ll like what he sees when he arrives here in Antalya.

Since he last tasted victory in Belgium, Guido has finished 7th at the European Open in Germany and 14th last time out in Portugal on two tracks that encourage a little more aggression from off the tee in order to score well. That effort at Vilamoura saw his best performance with his irons for 3 months as he ranked 4th for GIR as well as 2nd for par-5 scoring on the week. A closing round of 65 sets him nicely for this week and with a season-long ranking of 9th for Strokes Gained Approach, I can see him going very nicely indeed this week.Result: T10

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Masahiro Kawamura 1pt EW 175/1 (7EW, 1/5) with Paddy Power

Finally, despite finishing in a solid 22nd place last week at WGC level, the price of Masahiro Kawamura has barely shifted and that’s doing the Japanese star a disservice in my view. Rounds of 66/69 over the weekend matched eventual Sheshan winner Rory McIlroy’s final 2 round total and the 26 year-old recorded a big personal best at WGC level as a result, 6 years after making his debut at that level on the same course.

Kawamura has only one professional title to his name thus far – the 2013 Asia Pacific Panasonic Open – however there have been strong signs over the past 18 months that he’s going to add to his tally sooner rather than later. 3 runner-up finishes on the Japan Tour last year and a further 2nd place finish in 2019, this time at European Tour level at the Indian Open, show that he’s well capable of getting into a position to convert and at some point that door is likely to open on a Sunday afternoon. 7th at the Spanish Open last month behind Jon Rahm is positive recent form and with a solid effort in the Japan Open before his aforementioned finish last week, he could be warming up nicely for another strong finish at a juicy price on course debut.

Averaging a touch under 300 yards off the tee for the season-to-date means that he’ll have the opportunity to attack the par-5s here at the Montgomerie Maxx and twice in his last 5 starts he’s produced excellent totals on the long holes, shooting -12 on the par-5s both in Spain and also a couple of starts before that when he finished 9th on the PGTI. At 54th on the Race to Dubai he needs one final effort to secure his spot at the Earth Course in a fortnight’s time, so I’m expecting him to significantly outperform his odds here this week. Result: T46

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Odds and bookmaker offers correct at 16:45GMT 4.11.19 but naturally subject to fluctuation.