Well, the WGC-HSBC Champions was a bit of a weird event, but it was awesome to see Hideki Matsuyama finally get that big win. He’s officially in the top-10 in the world now and I expect huge things from him this season.
This week, we head to Turkey for a star-studded field which includes Bernd Wiesberger, Andy Sullivan, Tyrrell Hatton, Lee Westwood, Ben An, Danny Willett, and Andrew Johnston. This event is the first of the European Tour’s Finals Series, which is basically their version of the FedEx Cup playoffs. Although the field is full of big names, this event has produced two big-name first time winners: Victor Dubuisson and Brooks Koepka. This is the 4th time the Turkish Airline Opens has been played, but this year, it finds a new home at Regnum Carya Golf & Spa Resort.
This track is very unique, in that they created a heathland look in a location with no heathland courses. Basically, they’ve created a new environment by adding millions of plants to create a look that is very aesthetically pleasing. It’s a standard par-72 layout that measures just over 7,100 yards, making it a pretty short track for these players. It sits near the Mediterranean Sea, so there’s some water in play and the winds could pick up any day. The course is fairly undulating which will create some difficult stances and angles for the players to contend with, as well, and plenty of trees making driving accuracy key. The type of player I’ll target this week is the tactician, or the guys who can find the correct side of the fairways and greens. Having control over your golf ball is absolutely critical on these types of courses.
- Driving Accuracy
- Greens in Regulation
- Birdie or Better %
- Par-4 Scoring
Let’s take a look at my favorite European Tour players this week:
Tyrrell Hatton ($10,900) – It’s been an amazing season for Hatton, as he has burst onto the stage as one of Europe’s best young stars. He recently won the Dunhill Links, and he has backed that up with a 9th and a 23rd his last two starts. Although we’re at a new venue this year, Hatton has posted two top-25 finishes in Turkey previously. He’s my pick to win this week.
Tommy Fleetwood ($10,300) – There probably isn’t anyone playing better or more consistent golf over the last two months that Fleetwood, whose record reads: 10th, 7th, 13th, 15th, 4th, and 37th. He’s not only had consistent finishes, but he’s made a bundle of birdies which is great for our fantasy rosters. I’m not sure he has enough firepower to win in this field, but I’ll lock Fleetwood in for a top-10.
Richard Bland ($9,100) – Three Englishmen at the top? No surprise. The Englishmen should be very familiar with the heathland style golf course, so I’m heavy on them this week. Bland still is looking for that elusive first win, and he’s in some incredible recent form: he’s finished inside the top-7 in four of his past seven starts. The main issue for Bland is he can’t get it done on the weekends. His scoring average rises from day-to-day, and he often ruins a great week with a Sunday 75. Bland finished 16th in Turkey last year, so he has some positive vibes to draw on.
The Value Mid-Tier:
Padraig Harrington ($8,400) – Tactician, check. Harrington is another savvy veteran who I target at these types of courses. Not to mention, he won his last event in Portugal making him one of the hottest players on Tour. During that win, his short game was absolutely stellar, which I think he can carry over this week.
David Horsey ($8,000) – Horsey is another player who tends to play well on accuracy-first golf courses. Furthermore, his recent form is great: 22nd, 12th, 11th, 49th, 5th, 4th in his last six starts. He hasn’t had tremendous success at this event before, so hopefully his hot form and a course change will suit him well.
David Lipsky ($7,700) – Lipsky finished 5th two weeks ago at the British Masters and has two other recent top-6 finishes on Tour. He’s overdue for a win considering how often he’s been in contention. I love his driving accuracy and GIR%, and when Lipsky gets hot with the putter, he can win anywhere.
Robert Rock ($7,300) – A bit of a flier here, but Rock has flashed some form in the recent months. He’s made his last seven cuts on Tour with two top-10s, including a 5th at the British Masters. Again, I’m targeting the Englishmen very heavily this week because the course style should be very familiar to them.
Raphael Jacquelin ($6,600) – The type of veteran tactician I’m targeting this week, Jacquelin pops up occasionally on shorter tracks where accuracy is crucial. He finished 5th in Turkey in 2013 (albeit a different course), and finished 22nd in the Portugal Masters last outing.
Lee Slattery ($6,500) – I’m heavy on Englishmen this week because they are very familiar with these tree-lined heathland layouts. He played the 2010 Turkish Airlines Challenge at this course, so he has experience here. He finished 9th at this event last year at the other venue, and recently finished 12th at the British Masters, on a similar style course.
Oliver Fisher ($6,400) – What an amazing finish for Fisher in Portugal, where he fired a final-round 64 to finish inside the top-10 and retain his Tour card. All the pressure has been lifted, so I expect Fisher to be super aggressive this week and trying to make as many birdies as he can. The price is very cheap and allows you to pay up for some of the elite talent in the field.
Good luck this week!