Thorbjorn Olesen’s grip on the Turkish Airlines Open is now so tight he would enter golfing legend for all the wrong reasons should he not win.
With one round to play, the 26-year-old Dane leads by seven. If sunglasses are required for the Turkish climate, binoculars are the order of the day as the rest of this field attempts to keep sight of the leader.
Olesen stretched out to 18 under par with a 68 which represented his highest score of the competition by three. David Lipsy, Bernd Wiesberger, Haotong Li, Matteo Manassero and David Horsey are at least involved in a decent tussle at minus 11.
“I’ve never had a seven-shot lead,” said Olesen. “There’s still 18 holes left and I really have to stay concentrated out there and stay in my own little zone.”
Those in pursuit are tipping their caps. “He’s playing great,” said Manassero of Olesen. “And if he keeps playing like this, obviously he 110% deserves to win this tournament.”
Danny Willett’s yo-yo event continued with a 68, his finest score of the week, to move to two under par. Still, the Race to Dubai title is tilting more and more towards Henrik Stenson. Lee Westwood is level after a Saturday 73, the same aggregate as the defending champion Victor Dubuisson.
The European Tour’s chef executive Keith Pelley, meanwhile, has refused to rule out radical changes to Ryder Cup eligibility criteria. Under present regulations, only full-time European Tour members are eligible to represent the continent; a scenario that caused the high-profile absence of Paul Casey from this year’s meeting with the USA at Hazeltine. In recent days, Rory McIlroy suggested simply the 12 top ranked European golfers should play.
“We are always talking to our top players,” said Pelley. “We are always listening to what they have to say. We also want to have the best possible team at the Ryder Cup.
“We are having discussions regarding the qualification system now. We will continue to have them. We will have them with our players. We will have them with our tournament committee and our board over the coming weeks and months.
“We will adjust the Ryder Cup qualification if we feel that we need to. We won’t be afraid to make the changes.
“Our job as the gatekeepers of the Tour is to provide bigger purses, greater experiences and greater courses so that the players want to play here and play here more than they need to just to stay a member and so be a Ryder Cup player.
“The Ryder Cup is a critical component of our tour and it is a sensational event. But it shouldn’t be the only reason why someone wants to be on our tour. That’s our job at hand right now.”
Ewan Murray travelled courtesy of Turkish Airlines
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