You have to admire the pluck of the Turkish, a nation that places no barrier on sporting ambition. After the success last week of the inaugural European Tour event, the Turkish Airlines Open in Antalya, golf’s rapidly emerging power is aiming to take over the golfing world, or host the Ryder Cup, which for seven days amounts to the same thing.
The idea, first mooted a year ago after a matchplay exhibition featuring the world’s top eight players, has hardened into a serious target when the bidding opens for the next free date in Europe, 2022.
Ahmet Agaoglu, president of the Turkish Golf Federation, who brought the national airline and the government together to back Turkey’s flagship entry into the sport, is already positioning Turkey to challenge Dubai for the title sponsorship of the European Tour’s order of merit. The Ryder Cup is the next step.
“We have the idea to host the Ryder Cup in 2022. But if anyone wants to skip it in 2018 [France] or 2014 [Scotland] we can take it. We will bid for that.” Don’t be fooled by the comedic tone. It conceals ferocious intent.
“Turkey is in Europe. But if we need to, we can build a course on the European side of Istanbul. We are candidates for the Race to Antalya or Turkey in 2016. And what comes after that? The Ryder Cup.”
Turkish Airlines’ chairman, Hamdi Topcu, would sign a deal tomorrow. He said: “We will seriously consider bidding to host the Ryder Cup. We have people in our company working on this and we discussed it with the Turkish Golf Federation on Saturday.”
The European Tour chief executive, George O’Grady, is a believer, too. “Turkey would have as good a chance as anywhere. We have been staggered by the success of this tournament. This is a country where anything is possible,” he said.
Europe’s Ryder Cup talisman Ian Poulter agreed: “They’re prepared to do what it takes. Anything east of America that’s prepared to put some extra money in right now is a big help for Europe, with some of the tournaments that have been lost.”