Turkish Airlines Open: Key Takeaways From Day 1
With day one of the action all wrapped up at the Turkish Airlines Open, what are the key storylines so far?
And so, it all comes down to the next three weeks. After dozens of events, endless travel miles and no shortage of spectacular golf; the next three weeks will decide the winner of the Race to Dubai and with that the title of the European Tour’s best player for 2016.
The first stop on the journey to that outcome comes at the Final Series’ opening event this week, the Turkish Airlines Open.
In spite of a number of high profile withdrawals due to political instability and security concerns in the region, the play got underway on Thursday with a field that was still full of recognizable names.
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With big prize money and even more importantly invaluable world ranking points up for grabs, there’s no shortage of motivation for those who did make the trip to Turkey and that showed in the low scores on day one.
George Coetzee set the early pace, but solid starts from the likes of Bernd Wiesberger, Danny Willett and Lee Westwood could all have big implications on the Race to Dubai’s rankings.
What were the key takeaways from the first day’s play at the Regnum Carya Golf and Spa Resort though? Let’s take a closer look.
Wiesberger Lurking Ominously
Currently sitting just outside of the Race To Dubai’s top-10 in 12th place, and still searching for a win that would top off an otherwise impressive season, a strong first round from Bernd Wiesberger leaves the Austrian in prime position on the leaderboard.
A disappointing bogey on the par five 12th hole provided the only blemish on a very controlled round from the 31-year-old, as he poured in six birdies en route to a total of 66 and a share of third place.
With two runner-up finishes in his last five starts, Wiesberger is due to go one better and get his hands on a trophy, and after the first 18 holes it’s certainly a case of so far, so good for him in Turkey.
Willett Shows Signs Of Bucking Poor Form
There was only one man who came into this week’s event with a real opportunity to seize control of the Race to Dubai overall, but considering Danny Willett’s abysmal recent form, the chances of the Englishman doing that seemed pretty slim.
Having finished toward the back of the field at 14-over par at last week’s WGC-HSBC Champions, Willett showed signs of turning a corner at the very least on Thursday at the Regnum Carya Spa and Golf Resort in Antalya.
In spite of two bogeys, a double bogey and countless missed birdie chances, Willett opened up with a solid round of 69. Just outside the top-20 on day one, if the Masters champ can take confidence from that in the coming three days it could have a decisive impact on the R2D.
Coetzee Hits The Front
Having picked up two wins in 2015, George Coetzee has so far been unable to follow up 2016 with another year of vintage form. With only one top-10 on tour this year, Coetzee entered the week in lowly 85th place in the Race to Dubai, but after day one he’ll now be dreaming of making big strides.
Coetzee’s only dropped shot of the day came at the 17th, after he had made eight birdies in the previous 16 holes, but he quickly steadied the ship for a closing par, a 64, and the low round of day one in Antalya.
Coetzee’s previous best film in this event was 12th in 2013, but as a proven winner on the European Tour, there’s no reason to suggest he can’t maintain this current level of play and contend through the weekend.
Turkish Airlines Open – Day 1 Leaderboard
1 – George Coetzee – 64 (-7)
2 – Thorbjorn Olesen – 65 (-6)
T3 – Bernd Wiesberger – 66 (-5)
T3 – Matteo Manassero – 66 (-5)
T3 – Jorge Campillo – 66 (-5)
T3 – Haotong Li – 66 (-5)
Check back with us tomorrow as we’ll have all the key takeaways heading into the weekend, at the halfway mark of the Turkish Airlines Open.
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