The Regnum Carya Golf Resort and Spa plays host to an event for only the second time in its short history. The Par 71 in Antalya, Turkey was the course of choice for a Challenge Tour event in May 2010. Several members of this week’s field played then, including the favourite. Bernd Wiesberger managed a T8 then and in a poor field here, he’s a worthy favourite.
The course has undergone some fairly significant changes since Charlie Ford triumphed here six years ago. The tree-lined layout requires an accurate touch. The narrow fairways are largely flat and the rough is penal.
In the first three editions of this event, we saw two wins for the stereotypical ‘Mercurial Frenchman’ Victor Dubuisson and a maiden European Tour win for Brooks Koepka. The new course isn’t massively similar to Montgomerie Maxx Royal though so take past results with a grain of salt.
Several high profile withdrawals have rendered the field fairly feeble. Only three of the rather disastrous European Ryder Cup Team have made their way to Turkey. In its inaugural tournament, the Turkish Airlines Open drew a field strength of 52 Points. That reduced slightly in 2014 to just 48 Points. In 2015, we witnessed another reduction as it dropped to 44 Points. This year the field assembled is only good for 30 Points.
I understand why you might want to back Bernd Wiesberger or Andy Sullivan at short prices this week but I can’t do so myself with any real confidence. Of the front few, only Tommy Fleetwood (28/1) came close to being a bet.
Instead I’ve gone a bit further down the list. David Horsey (55/1) has been playing very solidly of late. 2 Top 5s and 3 Top 25s in his last six starts show just how comfortable Horsey has been lately. The 31-year-old is a four time European Tour winner and in his current form, should probably be a bit shorter.
Horsey is hardly an all-time great from tee-to-green but when his putter gets hot, it’s pretty common for the Englishman to find himself in the mix. Averaging just 68.08 per round for his last six events, if he can keep that scoring up then he won’t be far away come Sunday.
Only two men have won more Challenge Tour events than my next selection. Benjamin Hebert (100/1) has been victorious on six occasions on the Challenge Tour, three times in 2011 and three times in 2014. The 29-year-old Frenchman is still yet to break through on the European Tour though. Hebert ranks inside the Top 40 in Driving Accuracy and the Top 10 in GIR so the importance on accurate tee-to-green play will be no problem.
Coming off a T10 in his last start in Portugal, he should be brimming with confidence ahead of this week. Hebert was also one of the many Frenchmen to finish in the Top 20 in this event last year. A cooperative flat stick is all that’s holding Hebert back from entering the winner’s circle and his Challenge Tour record suggests that if he’s given a chance, he won’t need to be asked twice.
Finally, I’ll take a shot on Lasse Jensen (200/1). At one point in his career, the Dane only picked up OWGR points at a single event over the course of four years. It just so happens that it was at this week’s course where he found some form. Only a poor final round kept him from contending on Sunday that week. The 32-year-old will know the course as well as anyone and has the game tailor-made to play it. Jensen may well be looking at his best ever chance to bag that ever elusive European Tour victory.