The PGA tour takes a breather after its Asian stint so our focus returns to the Race To Dubai, which begins its final ‘Three Event Series’ with the Turkish Airlines Open that tees off on Thursday.
With 74 players set to tee it up, including the current top 70 in the Race To Dubai standings, just 60 will go forward next week for the Nedbank Challenge in South Africa, before the last 50 play at the DP World Tour Championship in Dubai in the final week of the season.
The first thing to note is that this year, after three years on the road, the tournament returns to the Montgomerie Maxx course, which hosted the first three editions after it was introduced to the schedule in 2013.
Designed by Colin Montgomerie, it’s a par 72 measuring to just 7,133 yards and the emphasis is on strong second-shot play, into fast, undulating, greens.
The market is headed up by Justin Rose @ 15/2 who has lifted this trophy for the last two years, albeit on a different course. He was third here on his only previous visit in 2013, so naturally commands respect.
Any enthusiasm that I might have had to back the Englishman at single figure odds is dampened by the fact that Rose has not looked near his best over recent months and I am happy to pass him by.
Behind Rose, we have Patrick Reed @10/1, who closed out last week in China with an eye-catching round of 66. To me, it is the American, who rates as the most solid bet of the week.
Reed has become a regular visitor to European shores over recent years and has made a habit of picking up trophies in low-scoring events on the PGA Tour, which require aggressive play. With wins in the States at Kapalua, Doral and Augusta – all of which bear some similarities to Montgomerie Maxx – the former US Masters champ strikes me as a perfect fit for this track.
Captain America is clearly trending in the right direction finishing eighth and 17th in his last two starts and gets the vote as our headline pick at 10/1 in a race where Paddy is paying 7 places.
While there are plenty of others near the top of the market who merit consideration, including current Race To Dubai leader Bernd Wiesberger and Open Champion Shane Lowry, at bigger odds I am keen to include three others, starting with Kiradech Aphibarnrat @ 45/1.
The Thai, is very much a ‘horses for courses’ player who is at his best when a good touch is required on the greens, as it is this week, and he was third here in 2015. Eighth last time out, the ‘Barnrat’ appears to have rediscovered his form at just the right time.
I expect a bold showing from him.
Pepperell’s was forced to take some time off in the Spring to rest a nagging back injury and he struggled to regain consistency when he returned. A sixth-place finish last time out in Portugal was his best finish in over three months and on a course that he was 10th on in 2014, he is fancied to build on the promise of his most recent start.
Sullivan meanwhile also has some ‘previous’ on this track, having been fourth here in 2014. With an eighth place and 23rd place finish in his last two starts, he also looks primed for a big week.
*Prices correct at time of publication