The first of the three season-ending Rolex Series events has arrived, and as the final sprint in the Race to Dubai begins, we take a look at the key things to know this week in Antalya.
Entry into the Turkish Airlines Open is limited to only the top 70 eligible players from the Race to Dubai Rankings Presented by Rolex, plus four invitations and one national spot. There will be no cut, but there will still be plenty to play for with only the top 60 players earning a spot in the penultimate event, the Nedbank Golf Challenge hosted by Gary Player, before the European Tour’s 50 best players qualify for the season-ending DP World Tour Championship, Dubai. Stay on top of these key cut-offs by following the projected Race to Dubai Rankings, which appear on the leaderboard at europeantour.com, and on the European Tour app.
With the card-keepers having been finalised two weeks ago at the Portugal Masters, the focus now shifts to the battle for the Harry Vardon Trophy and the honour of being crowned European Number One. Bernd Wiesberger, who has won two Rolex Series events already this year, currently leads over Jon Rahm and Shane Lowry — both having also picked up Rolex Series titles this yea — as well as Matt Fitzpatrick and Rory McIlroy, who round out the top five. The top five players at the end of the season will receive a share of the $5 million bonus pool as a reward for maintaining a world-class standard of play throughout the year. Over the final three Rolex Series events, there will also be an important battle to finish inside the top 30 of the Race to Dubai, as the top 20 players at the season’s end gain entry into the WGC-Mexico Championship early next year.
Justin Rose, who has won the last two editions of the Turkish Airlines Open, will look to become the first player to win the same European Tour event in three consecutive years since Colin Montgomerie accomplished the feat in 2000 when he won the BMW PGA Championship for a third-straight time. Rose became the first player to successfully defend a Turkish Airlines Open title last year and should he complete the hat-trick, he would become only the fourth player in history to win the same European Tour event three times in a row. Rose is already part of an elite club of players who have won multiple Rolex Series events, which includes Jon Rahm, Alex Noren, Bernd Wiesberger and Danny Willett.
Back to Montgomerie Maxx Royal
The seventh edition of the Turkish Airlines Open will return the prestigious tournament to Montgomerie Maxx Royal, which hosted the first three Turkish Airlines Opens. In his pursuit of the hat-trick, Rose will have experience at the venue to draw from. The Englishman finished in third place at the inaugural Turkish Airlines Open in 2013, which was his lowest finish in four visits to the country before triumphing in each of the last two years. The World Number Eight has made such an impact to golf in Turkey that he was honoured with the country’s Distinguished Service Award for his charity work by Minister of Foreign Affairs Mr Mevlüt Çavasoglu in 2017.
Graduate of the Year
Robert MacIntyre and Victor Perez will be embroiled in yet another head-to-head battle as the Race to Dubai comes down to the wire. Last year, the two went head-to-head at the European Challenge Tour’s penultimate event, the Foshan Open, after they both holed monstrous putts on the 72nd hole. Perez won the tournament with a birdie on the first extra-hole, however they were both able to secure European Tour cards by finishing in the top 15 of the Rankings. Now, the two will be going toe-to-toe once again as they bid to earn the Graduate of the Year award, which is given to the Class of 2018 graduate who finishes the highest in the Race to Dubai Rankings. Perez, who claimed his maiden European Tour victory at the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship in September, comes into the week fresh off of a tied-fourth place finish in his World Golf Championships debut last week but trails MacIntyre by 191.2 points with two events to go as both players once again validate the Challenge Tour’s reputation for developing the next generation of household names.