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Rory McIlroy’s Turkish return a delight for European Tour and organisers

28 Oct | BY Betway | MIN READ TIME |
Rory McIlroy’s Turkish return a delight for European Tour and organisers

Victory at the Turkish Airlines Open will move the Northern Irishman closer to winning the European Tour's Race to Dubai for a third time

Rory McIlroy would probably not be headlining this week’s Turkish Airlines Open had he not damaged his ankle ligaments before the Open Championship.

But the requirement for McIlroy to take part in a minimum number of European Tour events and his ambition to win the Race to Dubai – plus a significant appearance fee – has ensured his participation in the opening tournament of the European Tour’s season-ending Final Series.

It is the first time the Northern Irishman, who leads the order of merit despite competing at just one sanctioned tournament – the US PGA Championship – since June, has played in Turkey since his disengaged display in the lucrative, eight-man World Golf Final three years ago.

Unlike that pre-cursory event, though, the 26-year-old will not treat his time by the Turkish Riviera as a beach holiday.

Because while McIlroy leads the race by 271,214 points, after this week he is only scheduled to play in two – the WGC-HSBC Champions and DP World Tour Championship – of the remaining three tournaments.

Second-placed Danny Willett, meanwhile, is teeing up at both of those and the BMW Masters.

McIlroy, of course, is good enough to pitch up at any golf course in the world and win, but the Montgomerie Maxx Royal is a venue that rewards length off the tee and accurate approach play.

The four-time major champion is one of the longest drivers on tour – although his 298.2-yard season average is nearly 10 shorter than in 2014 – and is second for the year in greens in regulation.

And despite injury disrupting his summer, the fit-again Ulsterman has still won three times around the world in 2015 and is 9/2 to triumph this week.

Willett, though, is aiming to conclude the finest season of his career by overtaking his one-time Walker Cup team-mate.

The 28-year-old has won twice this season and recorded five other top-10 finishes, including at the lucrative Open and WGC-Cadillac Match Play.

Willett should relish playing at the $7m tournament this week, then – especially having tied for fourth 12 months ago – and is 22/1 to claim the fourth Tour title of his career.

Louis Oosthuizen and Justin Rose, third and fourth respectively on the money list, are absent this week, so fifth-placed Shane Lowry is poised to get closer to Willett and McIlroy.

Lowry has enjoyed an outstanding campaign, winning the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational in August and recording top-10 spots at the BMW PGA Championship, US Open and British Masters respectively.

The 28-year-old Irishman is 16/1 to win for the second time this year.

A triumph for either Lowry, Willett or someone other than McIlroy should ensure that the Race remains competitive by the time of the season-ending tournament in Dubai next month.

And despite the presence of the former world No. 1 adding credibility to the series that imitates the PGA Tour’s FedEx Cup, that scenario is preferable for the European Tour.

The tournament organisers who paid a premium price for his services, however, will be desperate for McIlroy to secure the victory that would put him on the verge of finishing as Europe’s number one for the third time in four years.

Turkish Airlines Open betting