Francesco Molinari. Picture: REUTERS
Francesco Molinari. Picture: REUTERS

This week’s Turkish Airlines Open in Antalya will help complete the final pieces of the entry list puzzle for entry in next week’s Nedbank Golf Challenge at Sun City.

The Turkish Airlines Open and the challenge are the third last and penultimate events in the race to Dubai as jockeying for position becomes the order of the day in the build-up to the climax in the desert.

The top 64 ranked players in the Race for the Dubai automatically qualify for the challenge‚ as does the defending champion‚ in this case Branden Grace‚ as well as the most recent Sunshine Tour order of merit winner George Coetzee.

The tournament can extend an additional six invites‚ of which three have to feature in the World Golf Rankings as of September 24.

Italy’s Francesco Molinari holds the aces in the Race to Dubai and it is hardly surprising the nearest man to him is the one with whom he established a bromance during the Ryder Cup‚ England’s Tommy Fleetwood.

Molinari‚ the Open winner‚ has been Mr Consistency in 2018. He has amassed 4,709,920 points from just 11 events and enjoys a 1,207,383 advantage over Fleetwood.

Patrick Reed is third‚ while Xander Schauffele surged into fourth place after his win on the World Golf Championship in Shanghai last weekend. Schauffele has earned his lofty position having played in just eight events on the European tour.

Fleetwood has played in 17 events‚ while fellow top tenners Dane Thorbjorn Oleson and Eddie Pepperel have played in 21 and 22 events.

Former world No1 Rory McIlroy‚ the biggest confirmed drawcard at the challenge‚ is ranked sixth‚ while the 2016 winner at Sun City‚ Swede Alex Noren is fifth. Recent world No1 Justin Rose, in 10th‚ has a chance of winning the race if he strings three great results together in the coming three weeks.

The same applies to big-
hitting Spaniard Jon Rahm who is in 11th place‚ who with Rose formed part of the victorious European team in the 2018 Ryder Cup. Speaking of which‚ Europe’s captain Thomas Bjorn has also indicated he will dust down his clubs next week.

The highest placed South African is Brandon Stone who is 18th‚ one place worse off than highly rated Kiwi‚ Ryan Fox.

SA’s Louis Oosthuizen and Charl Schwartzel have confirmed their presence in the Pilanesberg. Oosthuizen is a consistent performer at Sun City. Schwartzel finished two shots back from German Martin Kaymer in 2012. Other previous winners who have confirmed are Spaniard Sergio Garcia (2001‚ 2003) and England’s Lee Westwood (2010‚ 2011).

It is also worth noting the class still hoping to sneak in via the conventional route. The players ranked outside the top 60 include Dean Burmester (61)‚ Oliver Fisher (62)‚ Danny Willett (64) Kaymer (77) and Trevor Immelman (79).