A week at the Turkish Airlines Open, in the indulgent, all-inclusive opulence of the Maxx Royal resort, tends to be a lavish exercise in eye-watering, stomach-expanding avarice that would make Emperor Nero’s extravagant excesses look like Oliver Twist whimpering for another bowl of thin gruel.

It’s the kind of event where the salivating golf writers discover a meal between breakfast and brunch as we heave ourselves up and down the vast, over-flowing boulevards of the all-you-can-eat buffet with mouths agape like whales homing in on an undulating shoal of tightly packed krill.

Oh well, it’s back to the auld claes and porridge now …


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Rankings finale devalued by field filling

There was a head-scratching development during the Turkish showpiece last week that led to all manner of statements being hastily cobbled together and explanations from officials being expansively uttered.

To the humble golf scribblers, meanwhile, it was a bit like trying to understand the Abel-Jacobi map in algebraic geometry while dolloping another ladleful of lobster bisque into a bowl at that ruddy buffet.

Ross Fisher was playing on an invitation at the Turkish Airlines Open, which initially meant any ranking points he gained would not count and therefore he couldn’t climb any further and potentially gain entry into this week’s latest Rolex Series event in South Africa. But wait.

Under tournament regulations, any invited player whose Race to Dubai ranking was above that of the first reserve would be eligible to earn points. Are you following? No? Well, we’ll keep going anyway.

When two players – Andy Sullivan and Mikko Korhonen – withdrew after the first round got under way in Turkey, the next available reserve was Robert Rock, who was ranked 107th on the money list.

Fisher was ranked 105th … and therefore eligible for points. Confused? Perhaps we should just take to that Abel-Jacobi thingymejig.

All of the bamboozlement and convoluted chatterings that ensued highlighted the problem with filling fields at what should be the European Tour’s shimmering end-of-season countdown.

The Turkish line-up was meant to be for the top 70 on the rankings. But the pick-and-choose nature of the main movers and shakers meant that as many as 15 of the top 70 on the Race to Dubai sidestepped Turkey and players ranked as low as 95th were automatically drafted into the draw.

This week’s Nedbank Golf Challenge, which is supposed to be for the top 60, already has a player ranked 76th in the field.

In a sense, going down the order simply devalues these big-money showdowns.

If you state the field is the top 70 and only the top 55 opt to play, then so be it. Admittedly, the European Tour has a problem in the sense that many of its marquee yet part-time names can adopt a take-it-or-leave-it approach to the Race to Dubai finale. When you’re used to playing for mega-millions in the US, what’s another $7m tournament at the end of a globe-trotting, cash-sodden year?


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MacIntyre keeps us believing

It’s not often we get a young Scottish rookie making a big, bold impact on the European Tour so we may as well make the most of it.

We’ve written so much about Robert MacIntyre this year, even the laptop has his name on predictive computing.

The Turkish Airlines Open gave the Oban man another high finish, another big-time experience, another huge cheque, another round of profile-raising televised interviews and another idea of how hellishly hard it is to win on the tour.

Yet, even when he is not at his best – like he admitted during Sunday’s final round – MacIntyre still posted an under-par score to cling on in there.

Getting the most out of every round and turning, say, a potential 73 into a 69 is a terrific trait to have in this game of very fine margins and MacIntyre is adding that to his burgeoning armoury.

“This is a game of misses,” suggested the great Ben Hogan. “The guy who misses the best is going to win.” Fingers crossed, MacIntyre’s run of near-misses can hopefully end soon. It’s exciting watching him try.


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Captain’s cap fits again for Matthew?

The conclusion of September’s thrilling Solheim Cup at Gleneagles, when Suzann Pettersen won it for Europe with the last putt of the last match on the last green, was so wonderfully breathless, the greenkeepers are still repairing the dents on the PGA Centenary course made by all the flabbergasted jaws dropping to the ground.

This Thursday, the captain of the European team for the 2021 match in the USA will be made back at Gleneagles.

Given the location of the unveiling, you wouldn’t need to be one of the world’s greatest sleuths to come to the conclusion that Catriona Matthew, who led the hosts to grand acclaim on Scottish soil, is set to get the opportunity to skipper the team in their defence of the trophy in Ohio in two years’ time.

With her quiet diligence and calm authority, Matthew’s captaincy earned torrents of praise from players and backroom staff.

The North Berwick veteran certainly deserves the chance to try to achieve what no other European skipper has achieved before; Solheim Cup wins on both sides of the Atlantic.

Matthew would certainly relish the challenge but even she will know that the manner of the victory in her homeland this year, and all that went with it, will never be topped.