IT was another profitable week for Ace but it could have been so much better.
After 35-1 and 50-1 winners the previous two weeks he looked nailed on for a third victory in a row as Kevin Na approached the 71st hole tied for the lead.
However, for the second week in a row the American blew it and the 35-1 chance bogeyed the par three to finish tied for second.
Na fluffed his chip to the green and proceeded to two putt for a bogey, leaving him needing a birdie at the last. He just missed his putt to make a play-off. So it was no winners but two places as Matt Fitzpatrick tied third for another place – and I’ve lost count of how many I’ve picked up this year.
This week the Race to Dubai four-week Final Series starts at the Montgomerie Maxx Royal in Antalya, Turkey and all the top European players are there.
Rory McIlroy is a massive favourite at 9-2 with bet365 ahead of Shane Lowry at 16-1.
This is a course you can really attack with average width fairways and large greens. There are only eight par fours with five par threes and five par fives.
I am loathe to leave out Fitzpatrick but I like the look of Englishman Andy Sullivan for this one. He had a great Portugal Masters which he won with the lowest 72-hole score of the season (261).
Last year a 75 in the second round put him under pressure but also hit one round of 66 and two 67s to finish T4 in Turkey. He hits a long ball and with driving accuracy of around 66%, GIR stats of 72.9% and putts per GIR of 1.77 this course should hold no fear.
Another player really on form is 23-year-old Belgian Thomas Pieters. He has a driving average of 304 yards and although his accuracy is low with the fairways here it might not be a problem. He has a GIR of 67.29% and putts per GIR of 1.73.
After his two wins in a row at the Made in Denmark and the D+D Real Czech in August he seemed to go off the boil in his next two tournaments. However, in the Portugal Masters he got back in the groove and finished T6 with three rounds in the 60s.
With two wins already on the European Tour and a win in the Thongai Jaidee Foundation event in Thailand in September, Kiradech Aphibarnrat has had a solid year.
In his last six outings he has four top sixes including two wins. Another whose driving accuracy isn’t great but with GIR of 66% and putts per GIR of 1.71 he certainly compensates well enough. Like him for this one.
Tied third in the Hong Kong Open was certainly a good result for Patrick Reed and sets him up nicely for the CIMB Classic. This week the PGA Tour moves to Kuala Lumpur and with hot and humid weather forecast it could mean storms.
Having spent a couple of weeks in the Far East Reed’s body clock should be back to normal and I expect him to be acclimatised to the conditions. Last week he hit four sub-70 rounds and expect the same again this week.
With two wins on the European Tour and a further three top-seven finishes this season I have to pick Anirban Lahiri again for the second week running. He has been so steady on the Euro Tour I can see him putting on a good show on his PGA Tour membership debut.
He has also had four top -even finishes in his last five starts worldwide. With driving accuracy of 61.4%, GIR nearly 72% and putts per GIR of 1.76 I think that looks good and well worth a pick even though his two late bogeys last weekend cost me a place.
Turkish Airlines Open
Andy Sullivan 2pts ew (22-1, Paddy Power)
Thomas Pieters 1.5pts ew (33-1, Betfred, Ladbrokes)
Kiradech Aphibarnrat 1pt ew (40-1, bet365, BetVictor)
Reed 2pts ew (22-1, Stan James)
Lahiri 1.5pts ew (25-1, Ladbrokes)
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