With three birdies in the last four, Victor Dubuisson won the Turkish Airlines Open by a single shot from South Africa’s Jaco Van Zyl. It was the Frenchman's second victory in the tournament.
Victor Dubuisson started fast on Sunday with three birdies in the first four holes but, after a double bogey on the 5th and another dropped stroke on the 7th, it looked like his chance may have slipped away. But the Frenchman dug deep: he birdied the 9th and then made an incredible up-and-down on the 10th to save par.
On the 11th hole he chipped in for eagle and then turned on the afterburners on the run for home. He birdied the short par-4 15th, then rolled in a great putt on the 17th to get on level terms with Jaco Van Zyl.
On the final hole, enjoying great support from the galleries, Dubuisson fired an enormous drive through the fairway, leaving just a 7-iron to the par-5 green. He played a sublime second that left him just eight feet for eagle. When Van Zyl was unable to get up-and-down from the greenside, Dubuisson had two putts for the victory. He took them and claimed the title for a second time – he won the inaugural Turkish Airlines Open in 2013 (his only other European Tour success.)
“I love this place. I played great today,” he said. “I made a mistake on the par-3 5th. I thought the tournament might be gone. But I tried to get back in the right place and did well on the back nine.”
4 Talking points from the Turkish Airlines Open
1 – Victor Dubuisson had struggled with his game so far this season and his choice to try his luck on the PGA Tour didn’t work out. But this win has changed his fortunes dramatically. After holing the winning putt at The Montgomerie Maxx Royal, Dubuisson climbed to seventh place on the Race to Dubai standings. Following emotional scenes on the final green, Victor explained why this win means so much to him.
“It’s been hard this year, there have been some personal reasons why I didn’t play so much this season and I’m just so pleased to be back in this place,” he said. “I had lost my confidence, and I felt my game wouldn’t come back. This week I realised my game is still here.”
2 – Kiradech Aphibarnrat had a chance to get to 23-under-par on the final hole and he very nearly did it as his eagle chip from behind the 18th green hit the pin. But it didn’t drop and ended a couple of feet from the cup. When Van Zyl had missed his birdie effort, and Dubuisson had two for the title, Aphibarnrat opted to quickly tap in to allow the Frenchman his moment of glory. The generous gesture backfired when his “tap-in” horseshoed round the hole. It meant he finished third rather than tied for second. The miss cost the Thai golfer almost €200,000.
3 – Rory McIlroy finished the week in a tie for sixth. From tee to green the World Number 3 was on sublime form and his driving was particularly impressive. But on the putting surfaces he couldn’t find anything. Chance after chance went begging over the four days making it quite incredible that he finished just six back of Dubuisson on 16-under-par.
Rory McIlroy on how he became a champion:
4 – Jaco Van Zyl started this tournament in incredible fashion. His first round 61 would have been a course record had placing on the fairways not been in operation. Through eight holes of round two, the South African had reached 16-under-par and it looked like he might run away with the tournament – he was seven clear at that stage. But his serene progress stalled somewhat and he let the chasing pack back in. His final round of 67 was a great effort but it proved to be just one shot too many. The 13-time Sunshine Tour winner is still looking for a first win on the European Tour.
Turkish Airlines Open
The Montgomerie Maxx Royal, Antalya, Turkey
Oct 29 – Nov 1
Purse: €6,350,000, par 72
1 Victor Dubuisson (Fra) 69 64 67 66 266 €1,333,330
2 Jaco Van Zyl (RSA) 61 69 70 67 267 €888,880
3 Kiradech Aphibarnrat (Tha) 67 68 66 67 268 €500,800
4 Byeong Hun An (Kor) 70 68 65 66 269 €400,000
5 Chris Wood (Eng) 66 66 71 68 271 €339,200
T6 Peter Uihlein (USA) 68 69 67 68 272 €256,695
T6 Rory McIlroy (NIR) 67 67 67 71 272 €256,695
8 Shane Lowry (Ire) 68 70 69 66 273 €195,470
9 Lee Slattery (Eng) 68 68 72 66 274 €175,370
10 Andrew Johnston (Eng) 70 66 72 67 275 €156,490
Note: Player score in bold signifies Titleist ball usage