Golf Comment: Stenson and Westwood hit stride for Dubai

Sam Torrance
Follow Sam
ACROSS the Atlantic they have talked of Brooks Koepka being a potential Major winner for some time. The Turkish Airlines Open may not be a Major, but as one of the European Tour’s biggest events the field is just about as good.

Koepka’s win there on Sunday is another step towards fulfilling his promise and involved holding off the likes of Ian Poulter and Henrik Stenson with an excellent final round of 65. The 24-year-old from Florida is a powerful player with a very strong game and that was the best he has played so far in his career.

Poulter could look at his week one of two ways: pleased to have played so well in the first place – especially with new clubs – or disappointed to have led by six and missed a six-foot birdie putt to force a play-off. It was out of character for Poulter – not least when Mr European Ryder Cup had the added incentive of beating an American too. But he believes he is hitting form again – and for all his confidence he tends to be very honest about that – and has vowed to make up for it by winning this week’s European Tour finale in Dubai.

You certainly wouldn’t bet against the Englishman, although there are a few others with strong claims at the DP World Championship, including world No1 Rory McIlroy, who has already been confirmed as Race to Dubai winner for the second time in three years. By his own admission this has been his best campaign yet, with two Majors and an incredible performance at the Ryder Cup. He has taken time off lately to deal with a legal dispute and, while I can’t see a six-week absence ever helping him, it was something he needed to do.

Last year’s European No1 Henrik Stenson is another to watch this week. He was third in Turkey after finishing with a 64, and Dubai’s perfect golfing conditions suit those in form. Incredibly, considering he is winless in 2014, he is second in the Race to Dubai rankings. I’m sure he’d prefer being fourth and have two titles in the bag but that consistency is testament to his class.

I can never discount Sergio Garcia, while Lee Westwood is showing really good signs for Dubai. It’s also a big week for 23-year-old Englishman Tyrrell Hatton, who has qualified in his first season on the tour.

Finally, congratulations to Paul Lawrie for announcing his new event at Murcar Links. The Saltire Energy Paul Lawrie Match Play will be a new date on the European Tour calendar from next year and, I’m pleased to say, another tournament for Scotland.

Sam Torrance OBE is a multiple Ryder Cup-winning golfer and media commentator. Follow him on Twitter @torrancesam