Lowdown:
It’s the penultimate event of the European Tour’s Final Series this week. A superb field has assembled in Antalya for the inaugural Turkish Airlines Open presented by the Ministry of Tourism and Culture.

A host of stars will compete for an impressive prize fund of more than €5,000,000 over the Montgomerie Maxx Royal course in Antalya, Turkey.

The field is limited to just 78 players and the names on the entry list make some reading: World Number 1 Tiger Woods headlines but he’ll be ably supported by a cast including – Henrik Stenson, Justin Rose, Charl Schwartzel, Lee Westwood and Ian Poulter.

As the Race to Dubai, to be crowned European Tour Number 1 for 2013, reaches its climax Henrik Stenson will be looking to defend his lead on the standings, and third placed Justin Rose will be aiming to make inroads into the Swede’s advantage.

“It’s another good field and it offers a good opportunity for me in the Race to Dubai,” said Rose. “It’s an important week and I feel like my game is in good shape right now, so I’m hoping for a good performance.”

With such a significant purse to share out this week, a number of players in the field will be aiming to secure their place in the top 60 on the Race to Dubai to make next week’s DP World Tour Championship in Dubai.

Danny Willett is currently in 60th spot, but he’ll face pressure from big names behind him like Paul Lawrie and Padraig Harrington – currently 64th and 67th respectively.

Course designer Colin Montgomerie will tee it up this week. It’ll be his first start on the European Tour since the BMW International Open in June.

“I am really looking forward to getting back out on the European Tour and what better place to return than at one of my courses,” said Montgomerie. “I’m thrilled that one of my designs has been chosen to stage the first ever European Tour event in Turkey. It will be a very special week and, from what I hear, the course will be in pristine condition and I believe it will present a challenging, but fair test.”

Opened for play in 2008, the course at Montgomerie Maxx Royal is one of the very best in the Antalya region. Designed by the Ryder Cup legend, together with European Golf Design, it’s set across 257 acres of undulating terrain, with fairways carpeted in sandy turf meandering through mature pine forests and past a total of eight lakes.

The Maxx Royal has an extremely natural feel and this is because the resort places great emphasis on environmental sustainability, recently becoming a registered participant of the Golf Environment Organisation certification programme.

It may stretch to 7,100 yards, but this is a layout where strategy is key. There are some good “risk-reward” drives and the rolling fairways mean a shot travelling too far can roll into one of the cleverly placed bunkers or tricky waste areas that bound a number of fairways.

The weather forecast for the week looks set to be fair and warm.

Venue: The Montgomerie Maxx Royal, Antalya, Turkey
Date: Nov 7-10
Course stats: par 72, 7,100 yards
Purse: €5,189,310 Winner: €848,930
Defending Champion: Inaugural event

TV Coverage:
Thursday 7 – Sky Sports 4 from 9am
Friday 8 – Sky Sports 4 from 9am
Saturday 9 – Sky Sports 4 from 9am
Sunday 10 – Sky Sports 4 from 8.30am

Player Watch:
Tiger Woods will start favourite but who else might challenge?

Louis Oosthuizen – The 2010 Open champion showed promising form last week in Shanghai. He closed with a 67 to lift himself into a tie for 15th. He’ll look to take something from that and move forwards this week.

Pablo Larrazabal – The streaky Spaniard is on a good run at the moment. Since the KLM Open in September he’s finished tied 9th, tied 17th, tied 8th and tied 5th on the European Tour. He’s not afraid to mix it with the big stars so look for him to feature this week.

Thomas Bjorn – The veteran Dane has enjoyed another solid season and currently sits ninth in the Race to Dubai. He won in Switzerland in September and was tied fifth in the BMW Masters two weeks ago.

Key hole: 18th. A par-5 of over 550 yards it will be reachable in two for the longer hitters. The fairway is separated into sections by waste areas so distance control is key. Water lurks left of the green and bunkers wait short of the putting surface. There’s definitely potential for the odd eagle here and that could be crucial as the event reaches its climax.

Where next?
PGA Tour –
McGladrey Classic preview