With the final WGC event of the season in the record books, the European Tour heads to Turkey for the remaining Rolex Series events that will conclude the 2017/18 season in Dubai in just over a fortnight’s time. Despite these next two weeks being pivotal to determining who’s in position to top the Race To Dubai charts at the Earth Course, only 3 of the current top-10 in the rankings tee it up here this week. Tommy Fleetwood has a chance to close the gap on leader Francesco Molinari with the Italian opting not to play, with Thorbjorn Olesen (7th) and Justin Rose (10th) the only other players in the top 10 who are in attendance. Let’s hope for a better showing at Sun City next week.
Over on the PGA Tour, Steve Bamford previews the Shriners Hospitals Open – you can read his thoughts on that event here.
Course Overview. After 3 years at the nearby Montgomerie Maxx for the 2013-15 events, the 2016 renewal shifted a little way up the coast to a new layout for the European Tour at the Regnum Carya Golf & Spa Resort and we stay at the same location for a third year running this week. The par 71, which measures a modest 7,159 yards, is a lopsided 34-37 where the back 9 measures over 500 yards longer than the front. Save for the 505 yard 10th, the par-4s are generally of scoreable length where a decent drive will result in a wedge into the large, undulating Bermuda TifEagle greens and birdies will most likely be the order of the day here this week once again. With the 10th hole safely navigated, players are presented with the short par-4 11th and a couple of reachable par-5s before they reach the closing holes on a course where birdies are there to be made.
The Peter Thomson design is a classical layout with its inspiration taken from the heathland tracks in England with most holes flanked by pine and eucalyptus trees. Around a million heather plants were added to the course to enhance its look and feel and floodlights allow for play at night making the course an extremely popular destination for visiting golfers.
Predictor Model. Our published Predictor Model is available here. As always you can build your own model using the variables available.
Winners & Prices. 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 the Antalya region is here. Perfect conditions are likely to be presented to the players with wall-to-wall sunshine expected throughout the 4 days accompanied by a negligible breeze. Temperatures will peak in the low 80s Fahrenheit in the afternoons.
Tournament Trends & Key Factors. Analysing the final stats of the top 3 finishers here for the past 2 years gives us a little more insight into the requirements for this test:
- 2017: 1st: Justin Rose (-18). 298 yards (24th), 81.4% fairways (2nd), 88.9% greens in regulation (1st), 87.5% scrambling (3rd), 1.75 putts per GIR (24th)
- 2017: 2nd: Nicolas Colsaerts (-17). 310 yards (7th), 71.4% fairways (11th), 83.3% greens in regulation (5th), 50% scrambling (37th), 1.65 putts per GIR (2nd)
- 2017: 2nd: Dylan Frittilli (-17). 307 yards (9th), 62.5% fairways (37th), 76.4% greens in regulation (19th), 82.4% scrambling (6th), 1.76 putts per GIR (25th)
- 2016: 1st: Thorbjorn Olesen (-20). 291 yards (17th), 53.6% fairways (63rd), 83.3% greens in regulation (8th), 66.7% scrambling (10th), 1.68 putts per GIR (7th)
- 2016: 2nd: David Horsey (-17). 275 yards (65th), 66.1% fairways (19th), 76.4% greens in regulation (31st), 70.6% scrambling (4th), 1.62 putts per GIR (2nd)
- 2016: 2nd: Hao-Tong Li (-17). 292 yards (12th), 71.4% fairways (6th), 81.9% greens in regulation (11th), 53.8% scrambling (25th), 1.69 putts per GIR (9th)
The consensus prior to the 2016 event was that a sound tee-to-green game was the primary weapon to attack this course, however eventual winner Thorbjorn Olesen, ranking 63rd out of 78 players in terms of driving accuracy, raised questions over that approach. Justin Rose’s success 12 months ago redressed the balance somewhat, although it’s clear from those two results that there’s more than one way to succeed here.
The Regnum Carya is a resort course first and foremost and despite some thick-looking rough, those players who drift from the straight and narrow tend to find it relatively straightforward to play their ball unless they’re blocked out by trees. The greens are typically firm and fast, however very smooth and true which means that a lot of mid-range putts can be converted for birdie.
Incoming Form: Looking at the recent form of the same top-3 finishers from both years held here gives a mixed picture. Last year’s winner Justin Rose arrived here having won the WGC HSBC Champions at Sheshan the week before and prior to that had recorded 4 consecutive top-10 finishes, hence his 8/1 price point. Runner-up Nicolas Colsaerts had 3 top-25 finishes from 4 events prior to arriving here and was also pickable, however Dylan Fritelli less so given some indifferent finishes of late. Going back to 2016, 3-shot winner Thorbjorn Olesen had failed to break the top-50 in any of his previous 6 starts and runner-up Hao-tong Li was also quite difficult to fancy. Fellow 2nd-place finisher David Horsey was in better form though with 4 top-12 finishes in his previous 6 starts:
- 2017: 1st: Justin Rose: 65/12/MC/4/54/63/MC/10/10/2/10/1
- 2017: 2nd: Nicolas Colsaerts: 26/55/MC/19/MC/33/WD/MC/12/MC/25/15
- 2017: 2nd: Dylan Frittilli: 14/MC/MC/MC/MC/63/25/37/31/MC/36/MC
- 2016: 1st: Thorbjorn Olesen: 2/WD/MC/MC/MC/30/MC/MC/MC/50/MC/50
- 2016: 2nd: David Horsey: 7/MC/MC/17/47/MC/4/5/49/11/12/22
- 2016: 2nd: Hao-Tong Li: 27/MC/MC/MC/MC/50/50/18/20/38/MC/63
High GIR seems to be the common theme here this week and those who can find a higher proportion of greens than most and convert more chances this week should stand the best chance of success. The heather may well be little more than an aesthetic feature than something to truly differentiate a player’s chances, however those with a liking for Bermuda greens will enjoy putting here.
My selections are as follows: