The field for this week’s Turkish Airlines Open has been weakened over reported safety concerns, but don’t expect Padraig Harrington to head for the exit.
The European Tour had hoped for a star-studded field for the first event of its revamped Final Series, but several marquee players have opted to stay home. The tournament first lost Tiger Woods because of his “vulnerable” golf game, then saw Rory McIlroy and Patrick Reed both withdraw, with McIlroy citing “obvious” concerns days after an explosion in the tournament’s host city, Antalya, injured a dozen people.
The U.S. State Department has issued a travel advisory for any citizens traveling to or through Turkey, and according to an RTE report the Tour was “on the verge” of cancelling the event last week.
Only three of the top 10 players in the Race to Dubai – Danny Willett, Tyrrell Hatton and Lee Westwood – will participate this week, and the tournament which was designed to include only the top 70 from the standings went down to No. 102 Pelle Edberg to fill the field.
Harrington is making his first start since winning the Portugal Masters, and the 45-year-old showed up in Turkey wondering what the fuss was all about.
“There’s a lot of scaremongering,” Harrington told reporters. “Obviously here it’s a slightly bigger issue, but everything about the place is great. They have to put more security in and pay attention, but is it more dangerous here than anywhere else? I’m not really sure.”
Harrington cited his play and travel early in his career throughout Northern Ireland during turbulent times, as well as the opportunity he received this summer to represent Ireland in the Rio Olympics following the withdrawals of McIlroy, Shane Lowry and Graeme McDowell.
“That was a big factor cited in not going to Rio, safety concerns,” Harrington said, “and how wrong were they there?”