Brooks Koepka of the USA claimed his first European Tour title with a one-stroke victory over England’s Ian Poulter in the Turkish Airlines Open by the Ministry of Youth and Sports at Montgomerie Maxx Royal in Antalya.
Koepka fired an excellent final round of 65 to set a clubhouse total of 17-under-par. Ian Poulter needed a birdie on the par-5 18th to match that score and, after a superb greenside bunker shot, he was left with a six-foot putt to tie. Usually solid from that distance, and after watching Lee Westwood putt on the same line, a playoff seemed certain. But Poulter’s effort missed on the left side and the title was Koepka’s.
“It's a special week obviously, these four Final Series events and The Race to Dubai are ones you prepare for all year, and to win one of them is very special,” said Koepka.
Four things we learned at the Turkish Airlines Open:
1 – With victory in the penultimate event of the European Tour’s Final Series, Brooks Koepka received a cheque for just under €850,000. He has climbed to sixth place on the Race to Dubai with just one event remaining.
Koepka earned his playing rights on the 2014 European Tour by winning three times on the 2013 Challenge Tour. The 24-year-old was tied for fourth in this year’s U.S. Open and has finished in the top-10 both times he’s started on the 2014/15 PGA Tour, (tied eighth in the Frys.com Open and tied fourth in the Shriners.)
The Floridian is one of the longest hitters in world golf and is currently ranked third in driving distance on both the PGA and European Tours. With this win he moves into the top-35 on the Official World Golf Ranking. He’s definitely one to watch in 2015.
2 – Rory McIlroy is Race to Dubai Champion. Despite the fact he wasn’t even playing in Turkey, the Northern Irishman can no longer be caught at the top of the standings. Going into this event, only Jamie Donaldson, Sergio Garcia and Marcel Siem had a mathematical chance of preventing McIlroy being crowned European Tour Number 1 for 2014, but all three had to win in Antalya to have a chance of doing so. Marcel Siem of Germany came closest. He was just one of the lead going into Sunday, but he could only manage a closing 71 and finished in a tie for eighth place.
3 – Ian Poulter has made a welcome return to form in the last couple of weeks. He was tied sixth in the HSBC Champions then runner-up in this event. He was disappointed to miss a makeable putt on the final green to force a playoff, but was even more frustrated by the scrappy 75 he posted in the third round. He led the tournament by six strokes after 36-holes, but struggled on Saturday, finishing the day one behind Australia’s Wade Ormsby.
“That, for me, is really disappointing,” he said. “To have played three great rounds of golf, and just one blip on Saturday, which is a real shame.”
4 – Robert-Jan Derksen of Holland played his final round on the European Tour in Turkey. The 40-year-old Dutchman has retired from professional golf after an 18-year career. He played in 394 European Tour events and won twice, including the Dubai Desert Classic of 2003. He signed off with a birdie on his very last hole and ended the week in a tie for 48th.
“It’s been a fantastic 18 years. I had my share of good fortune and wins,” he said. “I feel it’s time for a change, and that change might mean something else in golf, or it might not mean something in golf at all. But I’m sure it will be something good, and I’m already looking forward to the next stage of my life.”