Turkish Airlines Open: Top 10 Power Rankings

The European Tour rolls into it’s latest stop at the Turkish Airlines Open this week, where Victor Dubuisson is defending champion. Who’s likely to contend this year?

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As we get down to the business end of the season for the European Tour with the start of the Race to Dubai final series getting underway, there’s plenty to play for in terms of prize money, world ranking points, exemptions and pride.

For the players who ply their trade on the European Tour week in and week out, or even those who play across the world but like to come home to end the year, there’s something special about winning one of the season closing events and putting the cherry on top of the season.

Now in its fourth staging, the Turkish Airlines Open has turned into one of the European Tour’s biggest drawing events.

In spite of the withdrawal of a number of notable names due to security concerns amidst political turmoil in the area, the field is still very strong heading into the week, and the winner will certainly have had no easy ride en route to the trophy.

Who will come out on top though? Our power rankings highlight 10 of the leading contenders at the Turkish Airlines Open.

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1

Tyrrell Hatton

No. 35, Recent Winner

If there’s one thing that Tyrrell Hatton has shown about himself this season, it’s that he has an appetite for the big occasion. Heading into the week as one of only two players from the Race to Dubai’s top-five in attendance, I expect him to kick on and make a statement.

The Englishman may only have turned 25 a couple of weeks ago, but with a win at the Alfred Dunhill Links accompanying top-10s at events like The Open Championship, US PGA Championship, British Masters, Scottish Open, Irish Open, BMW PGA Championship and Dubai Desert Classic, Hatton’s season has already proven that he’s mastered peaking when it matters.

Hatton finished 26th here last year and 19th the year before, acting as a nice complement to his strong recent form in leaving him set to impress in Turkey this week.

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2

Bernd Wiesberger

No. 52, Runner-Up In Two Of His Last Five Starts

Alongside Rafa Cabrera Bello and Richard Bland, Bernd Wiesberger can make a very strong case for being one of the best players on the European Tour this year not to have won an event in the season so far. If the Austrian’s recent form is anything to go by, that could be about to change though.

Wiesberger ended a run of four straight top-10 finishes last week in Shanghai with a tie for 35th, but before that he had gone very close to completing the job as a runner-up at both the KLM Open and the British Masters.

On top of that outstanding play of late, Wiesberger has played well in this event before too. Back in 2013, Wiesberger finished in a tie for seventh following some excellent play on the weekend.

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3

Andy Sullivan

No. 46, Runner-Up In Portugal

Having suffered from some pre-Ryder Cup struggles, Sullivan was still searching for form when he teed it up as defending champion at the Portugal Masters two weeks ago. After pushing Padraig Harrington all the way to the end, he might have now found that form too.

In a week that included rounds of 61 and 65, Sullivan offered everyone on the European Tour a reminder of exactly what he’s capable of in any given week. With some of the big guns taking this week off, he’ll likely see it as an opportunity for him to step in and get himself into the top-10 of the Race to Dubai too.

Although he struggled in this event last year, Sullivan was fourth the year previously, so he’ll feel confident that he can produce the golf needed on this course.

Mandatory Credit: John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

4

Lee Westwood

No. 45, Improved Form This Month

It’s hard to look past how poorly Lee Westwood played at the Ryder Cup, but by no means did that mark the end of the Englishman’s relevance at the top of the world game either. The winner of two European Order Of Merit titles, Westwood knows how to get the job done late in the year too.

In the time since the Ryder Cup, Westwood’s game has recovered somewhat too. Next year, he will serve as the host of the British Masters, but for this season a third placed finish will certainly be enough for him to be associated with. While if not for a third round 77, Westwood could even have done much better than 29th at the WGC-HSBC Champions last week.

In three years of this event, Westwood has never finished outside of the top-30 and notably finished 11th last season and in eighth the year before that. A win this week would catapult Westwood into the heat of the Race to Dubai chase.

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5

Alexander Levy

No. 98, Recent Winner Maintaining Form

Stringing back-to-back strong performances together has been something of a challenge for Alexander Levy this season. But while consistency has been hard to come by, when he’s in form, the Frenchman is tough to beat.

The runaway winner at the shortened Porsche European Open, Levy has also recorded a runner-up spot at the ISPS Handa Perth International, and fourth placed finishes in the Shenzhen International and the recent British Masters this season.

Although he hasn’t truly challenged at this event in the past, Levy has played very solid golf, coming in 18th last season and 11th the year before.

6

Richard Bland

No. 107, Mr. Consistency

Some way or another, Richard Bland continues to find ways to maintain his sparkling form. The Englishman will have plenty of reason to be disappointed by back-to-back 75s on the weekend in Sheshan last week, but its a testament to how far his great play has brought him this season that that is now a concern for him.

Bland has finished inside the top-30 in his last 10 European Tour events, dating all the way back too the French Open at the start of July, in a remarkable run that could even have included a win if not for some weekend stumbles.

Bland also gave a respectable showing here last year, finishing in 16th place in spite of a 73-72 weekend. If Bland was to win this week, with be the perfect time for a maiden tour success.

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7

Danny Willett

No. 10, Highest Ranked Player In The Field

Danny Willett enters this week as the highest ranked player in the world (10th) and the highest ranked player in the Race to Dubai race (2nd), but it speaks of where his game is at present that those numbers aren’t enough to make him something of a default favorite.

When you win The Masters and the Dubai Desert Classic in the same season, you assure yourself of an excellent year. If Willett’s play is to be examined outside of that though, 2016 doesn’t look quite as bright, particularly in the second half of the year.

Having finished right at the bottom of the WGC-HSBC Chmpions leaderboard at plus-14 last week, Willett is now tasked with trying to bounce back at an event where he finished 11th last year and fourth the year previously. A win for Willett would put him in a dominant position overall, but can he regain some form?

Mandatory Credit: Eric Sucar-USA TODAY Sports

8

Andrew Johnston

No. 84, Improved Form, 10th Here Last Year

A year punctuated by a number of impressive finishes around Europe, received an even greater gloss for Andrew “Beef” Johnston as he recently earned his PGA Tour card for next year via the Web.com Tour’s Final Series.

Beef has turned into something of a star in 2016, spurred on by his win at the Spanish Open earlier in the year, and then further bolstered by his play at the Open Championship and the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth.

In his one and only appearance in this event to date, Johnston finished 10th last year and will be hoping to kick on even further again this season.

Mandatory Credit: Eric Sucar-USA TODAY Sports

9

Padraig Harrington

No. 99, Portugal Masters Winner

As Padraig Harrington proved with a steely win in the Portugal Masters a couple of weeks ago, the world’s best players don’t forget how to win, it just becomes a question as to whether their game affords them the opportunities to win. In Harrington’s case, his game seems to be in order at present and there can be no doubting his motivation either.

After finishing with a 23-under total in Vilamoura, Harrington recorded his only top-10 of the season and pushed himself back into the world’s top-100.

The three-time major champion has made his ambitions clear. Harrington wants to make the most of his opportunities to build up world ranking points over the next three weeks and hopes to return to the world’s top-50. He’s only played at this event once, where he finished a modest tied 50th, but certainly has the tools to put in another big week.

Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

10

Victor Dubuisson

No. 106, Defending Champion, Two-Time Winner In This Event

Victor Dubuisson has had a horrible season on tour, but it would seem somewhat ridiculous to exclude the Frenchman from this list considering his track record in this tournament.

Dubuisson is the defending champion this week in Turkey, having not only won last year, but also in the tournament’s inaugural staging in 2013. Sandwiched in between those as the Frenchman’s worst performance at this event is a very respectable 15th in 2014.

Sure, his form doesn’t suggest a win is on the horizon, but it would be the first time that positive memories spurred a player on to play positive golf. If it wasn’t for this event, Dubuisson would have zero wins to his name on the European Tour, and as such, memories don’t come much better than those he has from Regnum Carya Golf and Spa Resort.

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