Harrington earns automatic place for Turkish Airlines Open
Shane Lowry and Paul Dunne will join Harrington in the $7m tournament in Antalya
Padraig Harrington playing from a bunker on the 9th hole during practice on October 17th for the Valderrama Masters in Cadiz, Spain. Photograph: Warren Little/Getty Images
Pádraig Harrington can play for real in this week’s Turkish Airlines Open: although originally in possession of a sponsor’s invitation in the run-up to the megabucks $7 million tournament in Antalya, the 47-year-old Dubliner – he is enjoying a rejuvenation on tour with three top-10 finishes in his last six appearances – has earned an automatic place in the field by right.
There is a big difference between playing on a sponsor’s invitation and earning his own exemption (by being one of the top 70 available players from the order of merit). It means any prize money won in Turkey will now be included in the Race to Dubai standings as Harrington seeks to work his way into the top 60 who will make it to the DP World Tour Championship in Dubai in a fortnight’s time.
If Harrington – as he did last year, when finishing fourth behind Justin Rose – had played on a sponsor’s exemption, his prize money would not have counted in the standings. So it is all systems go as Harrington looks to maintain his fine late-season form aware that a good showing could yet secure him another automatic place in the field for next week’s Nedbank Challenge, part of the Final Series run-up to the European Tour, in Sun City, South Africa.
Harrington is currently 89th in the Race to Dubai standings, and would need to break into the top 60 to make it into the tour finale in Dubai. In possession of a sponsor’s invitation to play in Turkey, Harrington had to play a waiting game until after the HSBC Champions to know if sufficient numbers ahead of him would decided not to play in Turkey (top 70 available off the R2D) and, as it happened, he ultimately had room to spare as the automatic places went beyond him and down to Spain’s Álvaro Quirós in 93rd position.
There are three Irish players in the field in the Turkish Airlines Open, with Shane Lowry – currently 42nd in the order of merit – and Paul Dunne, who is 52nd, also competing. Lowry and Dunne are also in the field for next week’s Nedbank in Sun City.
Rose, the world number two and defending champion in Antalya, made a good fist of defending his title in Shanghai last week (eventually settling for third behind Xander Schauffele, who defeated Tony Finau in a playoff) and will seek to achieve a first of his professional career by successfully defending his title in Turkey.
“I’ve never defended a tournament before, so that’s the goal for this run – to defend one of them,” admitted Rose, who, following Turkey, will also be defending in Singapore next month.
For Michael Hoey this is a big week. He is the lone Irish player to have made it through to the Challenge Tour finale, the Ras Al Khaimah Grand Final where only the leading 45 players on the order of merit are competing.
Hoey, currently 21st in the standings, is required to leapfrog into the top 15 at the conclusion of the tournament if he is to regain a full tour card exemption on the main circuit for next season.