No Woods and McIlroy leaves Willett golden chance at Turkish Airlines Open

The Turkish Airlines Open returns for a fourth year on the European Tour this week. ESPN has the lowdown from the Regnum Carya Golf & Spa Resort...

The Field

Don't let the withdrawals of Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy and Patrick Reed from this week's Turkish Airlines Open fool you -- there is still a lot to play for at Carya Golf Club.

And what an opportunity it provides for the European Tour's stars in the opening leg of the three-tournament Final Series.

Masters champion Danny Willett heads to Antalya just 260,000 ranking points behind Henrik Stenson in the Race to Dubai. With Stenson not making the trip to Turkey, Willett has a real chance to close on the Open champion in the season-long standings. Willett, meanwhile, has had just two top 10s since slipping on the famous Green Jacket at Augusta, and just three players finished worse off than him at last week's WGC-HSBC Champions in Shanghai.

Indeed, McIlroy has conceded the Race to Dubai to a straight fight between Stenson and Willett: "Those boys can battle it out. Over the course of the season, they have had big wins and played well. They are two major champions, so I'm OK with that," he said.

Willett revealed he had little intention of pulling out: "It's a fantastic tournament which has gone from strength-to-strength over the last few years," he said.

Two-time champion Victor Dubuisson will defend his crown this week, while Padraig Harrington, who recently won his first European Tour title since 2008 when he lifted the Portugal Masters, will return to Turkey for the first time since 2013.

Also in the field of 78 is Ryder Cup players Lee Westwood and Andy Sullivan, as well as fellow Englishman Tyrrell Hatton, the winner at last month's Alfred Dunhill Links Championship.

The Course

Designed by the company founded by five-time Open champion Peter Thomson, Carya Golf Club is home to Turkey's first heathland golf course, inspired by similar courses in the UK on which Thomson enjoyed so much success.

Located roughly 20 miles round the Mediterranean coast from Antalya, the par-72 course, hosting a Tour event for the first time, measures 7,127 yards from the Championship tees.

Undulating sand hills give way to holes that swirl through a pine forest, skirted by more than a million heather plants for the distinctive feel.

Advice? Be tactical. This isn't a long hitter's course. Find the fairway, attack the large greens.


- When the Turkish Airlines Open was first held in 2013, Turkey became the 41st different nation to host a European Tour event.

- It is the first time the event will be held at Regnum Carya Golf & Spa Resort. Between 2013 and 2015, it was held round the corner at the Montgomerie Maxx Resort.

- The 2016 Turkish Airlines Open will kick off the European Tour's three-event Final Series. Next up is the Gary Player-hosted Nedbank Challenge, followed by the traditional season-ender, the DP World Tour Championship in Dubai.

- Victor Dubuisson has two European Tour titles to his name -- both at the Turkish Airlines Open. In 2013, he held off the likes of Woods and Justin Rose, before returning to win again in 2015.

- Frenchman Dubuisson is a total of 55-under-par at the Turkish Airlines Open and has made €1,953,529 (£1,758,661) at the event -- roughly a quarter of his total career earnings.