Three of golf’s biggest names – Sergio Garcia, Henrik Stenson and Lee Westwood – took centre stage at the 2,000 year-old Amphitheatre of Aspendos for a unique skills showcase ahead of the 2014 Turkish Airlines Open.
The three Ryder Cup stars took to the historic venue for a spectacular challenge, doing battle with one another to loft their golf balls over the towering walls of the Amphitheatre.
Built in 161 A.D., the Amphitheatre of Aspendos has a rich history and to this day remains the home of Turkey’s annual International Opera and Ballet Festival. Throughout its history the theatre has inspired thousands, but today it was golf that captured the hearts and minds of the Turkish public.
World Number Three Garcia said: “The Amphitheatre is an amazing place – this must be one of the coolest places I have ever hit a golf shot. I’m very excited about the week ahead actually – this is my first time in Turkey and it is a pretty amazing country with so much culture and history.
“It’s a big week for me obviously – I am one of the only guys with a chance to catch Rory in The Race to Dubai so I have to win this week to try and put some pressure on him.”
Westwood, who has been supporting golf in Turkey since the inaugural Turkish Airlines World Golf Challenge Match Play event in 2012, said: “I’m not sure they have been playing golf for as long as the Amphitheatre has been here but it feels like we are playing 2000 years ago with this backdrop!
“This place is pretty amazing – I don’t think I have played golf anywhere near as historical as this place. Hopefully it can give me a little bit extra inspiration to do well this week.”
Stenson finished in a tie for seventh place at the Montgomerie Maxx Royal last year as he completed his unforgettable season by becoming the first player in history to win The Race to Dubai and the PGA Tour’s FedEx Cup.
He said: “It’s great to be back in Turkey and to be able to come to a place like the Amphitheatre of Aspendos is very cool. We do a lot of these photoshoots around the world and this is definitely up there with the most spectacular.
“Hopefully the golf can match these surroundings this week. I really enjoyed the tournament last year and obviously was on a pretty good run at that point so I am looking for more of the same and a little extra as I would love to win one of these big events before the end of the year.”
The Turkish Airlines Open presented by the Ministry of Youth and Sports, begins on Thursday in the historic city of Antalya at the Montgomerie Maxx Royal Golf Course where Frenchman Victor Dubuisson will defend the title that launched his career into the stratosphere 12 months ago.
Currently 11th on The Race to Dubai, Dubuisson will be looking to shrug off the back injury which forced his withdrawal from last week’s WGC – HSBC Champions after the second round as he looks to finish the season on a high.
Rory McIlroy holds a commanding lead at the top of The Race to Dubai but his supremacy can still be challenged by Jamie Donaldson, Garcia and BMW Masters champion Marcel Siem, currently second, third and fourth respectively in The Race to Dubai.
Garcia, who is making his debut in the Turkish Airlines Open by the Ministry of Youth and Sports, is one of eight members of Paul McGinley’s triumphant European Ryder Cup team teeing up in Turkey, with Dubuisson, Donaldson, Scotland’s Stephen Gallacher, Germany’s Martin Kaymer, Sweden’s Henrik Stenson and the English duo of Ian Poulter and Westwood also in action.
A total of 17 players from the top 60 of the Official World Golf Ranking will line up in Antalya.
Source: European Tour