Just as we near the winner’s post in the Race to Dubai, Tiger Woods could easily throw an untimely spanner into the works of crowning this year’s eventual European Tour No. 1.
Woods is competing in Turkey for a second straight year but this week’s inaugural Turkish Airlines Open is unique for the 14-time Major winner.
It has been four years since Woods last competed this late in a regular European Tour event and that was in capturing the co-sanctioned 2009 Australian Masters in Melbourne.
However, that was also before the introduction this year of the Final Series — four events carrying combined prize money of €24.1m.
Woods is the only non-European Tour member teeing-up in the limited 78-player event on the Colin Montgomerie-designed course along the shores of the Mediterranean.
And while there are one million Turkish Airlines air miles up for grabs for an ace at the par-three 16th, the focus for those at the top of the Race to Dubai, such as Henrik Stenson and his fellow Lake Nona neighbours Justin Rose and Ian Poulter, is the No 1 European Tour crown.
But then among those at the opposite end of the Race to Dubai is the likes of Ireland’s Pádraig Harrington (67th on the money list) and Damien McGrane (83rd).
And while Woods will guarantee record crowds throughout the four days, the visiting American could do more harm than good should he, as everyone would expect, put himself in line for a sixth success this season.
Woods’ mind was elsewhere yesterday, however, as he single-handedly brought bustling Istanbul to a standstill.
Special permission was needed for organisers of this week’s inaugural championship to close three lanes of the six-lane Bosphorus Bridge that links Europe with Asia.
The bridge spans the Bosphorus River and measures 1,560m and sits 64m above water.
Woods stood atop a makeshift tee and hit a number of shots to the bemusement of a good many observers.
Some 180,000 vehicles cross the bridge every day — most just for the ‘fun’ of being able to drive from continent to continent. There is a toll plaza located on the Asian side.
“To be the first golfer to do this was very cool,” said Woods.
“I have really enjoyed my visit to Istanbul and to see the Bosphorus for the first time was a very enjoyable and memorable experience.”
Meanwhile, European Tour chief referee Andy McFee broke his right ankle yesterday after he slipped on grass to the side of the 18th green at this week’s host course.
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