BELEK - Reuters
The $7 million Turkish Airlines Open has only been going for two seasons, but it is already recognized as one of the best organized tournaments on the circuit. DHA Photo
There may be only 12 months left on their three-year contract with the European Tour but organizers of the Turkish Airlines Open say they are committed to running the November event until at least 2024.
Ahmet Ağaoğlu, president of the national golf federation, said he and his backers were delighted to be associated with the competition and that staging the penultimate tournament of the Final Series was instrumental in their bid to host the 2022 Ryder Cup.
Turkey is one of six countries -- along with Germany, Austria, Italy, Portugal and Spain -- keen to stage the biennial team event in eight years’ time.
“With our two big sponsors Beko and Turkish Airlines we are increasing the popularity of this tournament year by year,” Ağaoğlu told Reuters in an interview at the Montgomerie Maxx Royal course in the south-western city of Antalya
on the Mediterranean coast.
“My idea is to stay with these two companies for the next 10 years. Our big target is to bring the Ryder Cup to Turkey in 2022.
“Also in 2023 it is the 100th anniversary of the Turkish Republic so that is why we want to extend our European Tour Final Series program until 2024.”
The six bidding Ryder Cup nations must prepare to host a series of meetings and inspection visits by officials between now and April 30, the date that formal bids need to be made.
United States is to host the 2016 and 2020 editions, at Hazeltine and Whistling Straits respectively, while Paris
will be the venue in 2018.
The $7 million Turkish Open, won on Nov. 16 by 24-year-old American
Brooks Koepka, has only been going for two seasons but it is already recognized as one of the best organized tournaments on the circuit. Popular week
World number six Henrik Stenson summed up the view of the players when he described it as one of the most popular weeks on the calendar.
“The Turkish Open has already become one of the biggest and best events on the European Tour,” said the Swede.
Former world number one Tiger Woods featured in the inaugural edition 12 months ago and Ağaoğlu said the 14-time major champion would have returned this year if he had not been sidelined by a back operation.
“My hope is that he will recover and be back here again. We want to see such athletes at the top in golf.
“He didn’t commit to our tournament this year because of his injury...but we definitely want to see him around next year.”
Ağaoğlu is a big fan of Woods, not just because of the impact he has on his own tournament but for the interest the American
brings to the sport globally.
“He has added value to the golfing world for the last 20 years,” said the Turkish Golf Federation president.
“Tiger was tied third with Justin Rose when Victor Dubuisson won here last year. He was close to winning and we hope he will be together with us again next year.”