The PGA Tour is on a one week break. That’s something we are not accustomed to hearing at all but last week we had a WGC event where we saw Rory McIlroy and the X-man Xander Schauffele finish 1 and 2.
This was a repeat finish from the Tour Championship earlier this year in August.
McIlroy got the younger man in a playoff this time, though. Schauffele is something really special. I expect he will be a perennial top ten if not top five golfer in the world for the next decade.
Sadly, though, neither man will be competing in Turkey this year at the Turkish Airlines Open, although the two-time defending champion Justin Rose will be.
We won’t be playing the same course as the past 3 years. We are still in Antalya but instead of Carya, we will be at the site of the 2013-2015 Airlines Open at Montgomerie Maxx. If you’re wondering, this was aptly named after its designer and former golfing great Colin Montgomerie.
In those three years, we had 2 winners. Frenchman Victor Dubuisson took home the victory in ’13 and 15′ while ‘Merican Brooks Koepka won it in 2014 at 33 to 1 odds, wow.
It’s going to be a long time before we see Big Poppa Pump with those kinds of odds.
Here’s another bummer for ya-neither of these two will be in the field either.
There isn’t a lot of course history to go off of for our picks this week but golfers who have excelled at the Alfred Dunhill Links have also played the Maxx well.
I’ll take that into consideration as well as who is golfing in solid form at the moment and for the few golfers who did play here in years past, examine their course history.
There are 5 par fives and 5 par threes here. That is rather unusual. Some courses only have 3 par fives so you know that the winner will likely be a 300+ yard driver who can attack those holes and club down comfortably to attack the par threes.
The greens don’t look to be very difficult, so I would put scrambling ability over putting this go-round.
BetOnline.AG has the lines for us this week.
Let’s jump into the betting odds and picks for the Turkish Airlines Open.
Kiradech Aphibarnrat Top Twenty
I always have to give some love to the Thai golfers but this pick isn’t biased as you might expect.
Thailand does have the best food in the world and some of the most beautiful landscapes. It is called the Land of Smiles for a reason too. There is nothing like that Thai smile. If you ever visit, you will understand pretty quickly what I’m talking about.
Be glad, though, that you aren’t witnessing said smile for the first time inside of the Thai Boxing ring as it can be pretty disheartening and usually means it’s the beginning of the end for you.
Kiradech placed third here the last time the tournament was held at Montgomerie Maxx and has played similar courses with a fairly high level of success in the past.
His par 5 scoring has improved as of late and he managed an 8th place finish in his last outing at the CJ Cup. This was 3 weeks ago. I would rather it have been two weeks but he is a veteran and I don’t think he will lose much focus.
The Thai is well aware of his past success in Turkey and would love to use this tournament as a springboard back in the top 50 world rankings.
He actually missed the cut at this year’s Alfred Dunhill Links but the Earth Course in Dubai correlates highly with Montgomerie Maxx and he has a 2nd and a 9th place finish in his last two appearances in that desert.
He’s motivated. The course history is there. His form is there, and the course correlation is solid.
I’ll take the plus money on a top twenty but I wouldn’t be surprised if he cracks the top ten.
Victor Perez Top Twenty
The Frenchman recently turned just 27 years old in September and I believe his ceiling is rather high.
I mentioned that par five scoring would be huge.
Well, he led all golfers in par five scoring last week at the WGC event at the Sheshan Golf Club in China. That’s rather impressive considering Rory and Xander both shot 19 under par for 72 holes.
Victor wasn’t far behind as he snagged 4th place overall finishing ahead of Patrick Reed, Hideki Matsuyama, and Adam Scott.
So, par 5 scoring-check. Recent form including par five scoring-check.
Course history… Eh, not so much but that’s okay because over half of the field has never played here before.
He drives the ball far averaging over 300 yards and is 13th on the European Tour in approach this year.
Both of those stats are golden here.
If you remember, I mentioned that the past winners here have also crushed the Alfred Dunhill Links at St Andrews.
Hmm…Who won the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship this year? Victor.
What country has produced two of the last three winners at this course? De France. I think that’s correct French but oh well.
Standing at 6’6” tall, there will be some serious torque on that driver this week. Generously wide fairways should also bode well for the bomber.
He has that nice approach too which should give him plenty of birdie and even a few eagle opportunities throughout the weekend.
That also carries over to the par 3s which is not that different than approaching a par 5.
Matthew Southgate Top Twenty
The 31-year-old from Southend-on-Sea, Great Britain is coming off of a nice two week break after finishing 31st at the Portugal Masters.
His current form is hit or miss and I think that’s why we are getting such a nice price for him here just to finish inside the top twenty.
The field of golfers isn’t incredibly strong, but golfers at the top like Rose and Patrick Reed are (+250) or higher just for a top twenty bet.
I just told you that the Dunhill Links is likely a strong predictor for success here at the Montgomerie Maxx and Matt was second to the aforementioned Perez this year.
Since September 12th, Southie was 10th, Cut, 2nd (Dunhill), Cut, and since then he’s just had his 31st in Portugal.
He took the next week off and he’s already dialed into the time zone. Hopefully, his play will be dialed in as well this weekend.
He can absolutely rip the ball off the tee and his approach game is where he plays his best. Let’s hope he’s on and makes enough putts to slide into that top twenty.
Kurt Kitayama Top Twenty
The man from Chico, California near Reno has been on a tear as of late. The UNLV grad did play last week and finished 28th at the WGC event. This wasn’t great but not terrible either considering the level of talent that was in the field.
I mentioned some of the guys who finished inside the top ten but just listen to the lineup who Kurt was able to outplay. Watson, Finau, Fleetwood, Reavie, Rose, Lowry, Poulter, Cam Smith, Jordan Spieth…
Prior to last week, the 26-year-old has a 3rd and a 4th place finish in back-to-back weeks and had a week off.
So, it’s not like he’s running on fumes having played 4 or 5 in a row.
- He crushed it for two straight weeks, took a week off, and had a very respectable finish amongst the greats.
- He has not played this course but his statistics are in line with what we’re looking for this week.
- He can really drive the ball!
At only 5’7” tall, he is averaging over 320 yards a pop this season, albeit on limited attempts but this course isn’t going to discourage any max effort off the tee.
His first hole in one was in my old neighborhood of Southern Highlands in Las Vegas and he did it on a par 4.
I’ll take the plus money, great form, and stats here with Kurt.
I kinda wanted to pick a winner this week. Justin Rose is pretty tempting considering he has a 3rd place finish at the course before and back-to-back wins at this tournament, in particular.
Patrick Reed, Tyrell Hatton, and Shane Lowry are each contenders but the payouts aren’t massive and when picking a winner, I think you need to have that most of the time.
I went with several mid-range guys who are all plus money to grab a top twenty.
I love the Victor Perez and Kiradech Aphibarnrat picks.
Kurt Kitayama should bring the heat as well.
Southgate is a bit of a stretch. He is either on or off but his course correlation history, as well as his statistics, made the (+250) bet worth it to me.
Tune in, turn up your spiked Arnold Palmer, and bet hard this week!