Danny Willett bucks the trend as rivals skip Turkish Open

Rory McIlroy and Shane Lowry among the long list of absentees due to security concerns

 Danny Willett: currently second in the Race to Dubai standings behind Henrik Stenson who is among those who have withdrawn from  the Turkey Airlines Open. Photograph:  Stuart Franklin/Getty Images

Danny Willett: currently second in the Race to Dubai standings behind Henrik Stenson who is among those who have withdrawn from the Turkey Airlines Open. Photograph: Stuart Franklin/Getty Images

 

Danny Willett checked into his hotel on Monday and went to the gym. For him, this week’s Turkish Airlines Open – the first of the season-ending three tournaments that comprise the Final Series – is another tour stop in his quest to top the European Tour order of merit

But, for others, among them Henrik Stenson, who currently leads the Race to Dubai standings, and Rory McIlroy, a trip to Belek is simply a step too far.

With heightened security concerns in Turkey, a cohort of players have decided that the incentives – a €6.5 million prizefund and the R2D points that go with it – are outweighed by anxieties over the unrest.

Stenson, McIlroy, Patrick Reed, Alex Noren, Louis Oosthuizen, Branden Grace and Shane Lowry are among those who have withdrawn from the 78-man, no cut tournament, with McIlroy effectively giving up his chance of a third successive Race to Dubai title.

In their absence, and especially that of Stenson, Willett has it in his own hands to emerge as the big winner as he chases down the Swede.

Second Captains

Only three players from the current top-10 in the Race to Dubai are competing: Willett (second), Tyrell Hatton (fifth) and Lee Westwood (10th)

McIlroy, who had become the poster boy of the tournament following Tiger Woods’s earlier decision not to return to competition there, withdrew from the Turkish event on Saturday telling reporters at the WGC-HSBC Champions tournament his reason for doing so was “obvious” and that the matter had been weighing on his mind.

“I slept a lot better knowing I had made the decision,” said McIlroy, who has won the Race to Dubai three times in the past four years and who claimed the FedEx Cup title on the PGA Tour this season.

The gap between third-placed McIlroy and Stenson is €1,019,135, while the Northern Irishman trails second placed Willett by €757,748. In deciding not to keep his commitment to play in Turkey, McIlroy has effectively put paid to any chance to catching Stenson who himself returned back to his Florida base following his runner-up finish in Shanghai.

Stenson – intending to work with his swing coach Pete Cowan this week – will play the final two tournaments in the Race to Dubai, next week’s Nedbank championship in Sun City (limited to 72 players) and the DP World Tour Championship in Dubai (which has a field of 60 players). There are no cuts in any of the three tournaments in the Final Series.

Fourth reserve

Las VegasPaul Dunne

The weakened field is a serious blow to the European Tour’s efforts to showcase the Final Series run-in to the season’s finale in Dubai: it had already been reduced from its traditional four tournaments to three (with the decision to omit the HSBC Champions and with it the requirement for players to play three of the four events).

McDowell – who took a two-week break after his run of events in Europe which took in the Dunhill Links and the British Masters – resumes competitive play at the Shriners tournament where Séamus Power, who impressed for so long at the Sanderson Farms championship won by Cody Gribble, is also in the field.

Power fell away with a final round 77 that saw him drop down 23 places for a tied-29th finish that nevertheless earned him his first payday on the PGA Tour, a cheque for $26,705 that moved him to 103rd on the early FedEx Cup standings.

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
GO BACK
Error Image
The account details entered are not currently associated with an Irish Times subscription. Please subscribe to sign in to comment.
Comment Sign In

Forgot password?
The Irish Times Logo
Thank you
You should receive instructions for resetting your password. When you have reset your password, you can Sign In.
The Irish Times Logo
Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.
Screen Name Selection

Hello

Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
Forgot Password
Please enter your email address so we can send you a link to reset your password.

Sign In

Your Comments
We reserve the right to remove any content at any time from this Community, including without limitation if it violates the Community Standards. We ask that you report content that you in good faith believe violates the above rules by clicking the Flag link next to the offending comment or by filling out this form. New comments are only accepted for 3 days from the date of publication.