November 2, 2016
AHMET AGAOGLU: We are excited about another brilliant week and tournament. Using this opportunity, I would like to thank our Masters Champion, Danny Willett and Lee Westwood, and all of the golfers who have come to support this tournament this year.
I think that all of us humans, we have seen there is a lot of difference between top golfers and the top outlets. From other source, with some golfers missing the event because of their fear of mosquitos, actually, the season is already over for mosquitoes. We don't have much mosquitoes at this period of the year.
It's very good to see the media people from all over the world coming here to see how wonderful Belek is as a golfing destination. I bet when you leave, you will already want to be back next week.
Finally, I would like to thank Turkish Airlines, our title sponsor; and Regnum Antalya, our venue sponsor; ISM, as our organising partners and the Minister of Sports for all their support in helping make this tournament so special.
Thank you to everyone and very special thanks to our support from the Minister of Foreign Affairs, and all our golfing friends. Thank you very much for coming here and being with us. Thank you.
MICHAEL GIBBONS: Next is Ms. Seda Kalyoncu, senior vice president of corporate communications for Turkish Airlines.
SEDA KALYONCU: Good morning, president of Turkish Golf Federation, distinguished press members and on behalf of Turkish Airlines, they fly to more countries than any other airline around the world, I would like to welcome you all to the fourth Turkish Airlines Open. And I also would like to welcome the Masters Champion, Danny Willett and Lee Westwood to Turkey once again.
We have come to recognise the Turkish Airlines Open in Antalya, one of the most significant golf tournaments in the world. Our Turkish Airlines Open sponsorship, which started from 2013 and goes through 2018, with a purse worth $7 million in total, every year since 2013, approximately 475 million households have been reached and by the local broadcasting agencies and broadcast time has exceeded 303,000 hours.
Moreover, Turkish Airlines is also a part of The European Tour and we also hold Turkish Airlines Ladies Open in May in Antalya as part of the Ladies European Tour. I wish a great success for all of the distinguished golf players and great golf games for all the golf lovers.
I would like to take this opportunity to express one more time a welcome for the many cultures together in Antalya. The area is the home to world-class golf courses -- ensuring that golf is an experience they remember for a lifetime. With 300 days of sun each year, it's not difficult to see just why Antalya is becoming a go-to destination for holiday and golf.
I would like to emphasise that we will always support golf as Turkish Airlines, and I extend my thanks to The European Tour, all sponsors and the Regnum Resort who is sponsoring the Turkish Airlines Open this year. I would like to say my special thanks to Ahmet Agaoglu, the President of the Turkish Golf Federation for his great support and cooperation. I would like to thank his Excellency Mr. Mevlut Cavusoglu for offering his personal support. And I must also admit, he's an excellent golfer. Today his presence gives us the greatest support. I hope that all of you enjoy the tournament. I look forward to seeing you next year at the Turkish Airlines Open 2017. Thank you.
MICHAEL GIBBONS: Last, but by no means least, Turkey's Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Mevlut Cavusoglu.
MEVLUT CAVUSOGLU: Ladies and gentlemen, very good morning. As a remember of Parliament representing this beautiful Antalya, and the Foreign Minister of Turkey, we are very happy to host you this year once again.
We have been hosting the Turkish Airlines Open four times in a row, and this year at this hotel, we hosted the world leaders last year, exactly one year ago at this hotel and at this particular room, the G20 and the G20 leaders. And many leaders played golf here, including the president of World Bank, Prime Minister of Malaysia. President Obama didn't play but he promised himself to come back when his term is over, and I also promised to give him four shots if he plays with me.
And I would like to thank the owner of the hotel and the golf club, for being a very good sponsor. I would like to also thank The European Tour for bringing all the players here this year again despite all the rumours, and particularly the CEO of The European Tour, Keith Pelley, and we have the title sponsor, Turkish Airlines.
Turkish Airlines is sponsoring this sport, not only golf but football and basketball, all over the world, and we are proud of Turkish Airlines with regard to phenomenal international destinations, and it has been expanding the destinations in many continents. Therefore, I would like to thank Turkish Airlines, its president, who is not here today, and all of the staff for the tremendous hospitality, not only for being a sponsor but also for the greatest hospitality, traditional Turkish hospitality.
I have to thank the president of the Turkish Golf Federation. He is a very dedicated man. He believes in it and he delivers. He has been doing his best to bring The European Tour to Turkey, and he has been very successful, and I would like to congratulate him for his re-election a couple of weeks ago in Ankara. I didn't vote for him because I am not a delegate but I would like to also thank my colleagues and my president. He played football and he supports all kind of sports in Turkey, and we have been talking a lot about golf and he supports us, and I'm very grateful to him, as well as my government, prime minister and particularly Mr. Akif Ã‡agatay KiliÃ§, Youth and Sports Minister. He is not able to be here unfortunately, but he is going to come for Sunday and we will be very happy to host him here in Antalya on Sunday.
As my colleagues mentioned, I also golf. I started six years ago, and it's too late to play at the Tour, but I am preparing for myself for the Senior Tour, so I have to warn JimÃ©nez and Montgomerie in advance. I beat Montgomerie once. He still owes me; we had dinner in Istanbul together with the President of the Golf Federation. I had to remind him that he also owes me something from the last time that we played recently, and he knows what he wants.
And final thought, I have to promote any kind of sports. I'm not only foreign minister, and also promote my homeland, beautiful Antalya. This is the most beautiful, the second-most beautiful city in the world, because Istanbul is the first, and it's the favourite city -- I don't want to challenge them, that's why I say it's the most beautiful.
We have been hosting the Expo 2016 in Antalya, and we will maintain it as a permanent expo, all of the nations will stay permanently and we will take care of it, so Antalya is hosting a lot of events. Therefore, I would like to thank, once again, everybody who has been supporting to make this event happen this year again. Thank you.
MICHAEL GIBBONS: Thank you, Minister, for those kind words.
Please join me in giving a warm welcome to the stage to the 2016 Masters Champion Danny Willett and one of The European Tour's greatest-ever players, Lee Westwood.
Thank you for joining us, as always. Lee, start us off with your thoughts on the week ahead, this beautiful resort. Looking forward to it?
LEE WESTWOOD: Yeah, I'm really looking forward to it. I always look forward to coming back to Turkey. I think it's my fifth trip here, maybe sixth. Fantastic, I've had a chance to see most of the country. Istanbul is great and Antalya is great. Great golf destination. The weather has always been beautiful and the golf courses are great.
MICHAEL GIBBONS: Not much to complain about.
LEE WESTWOOD: No. Turkish Airlines are a great sponsor, they have a great tournament down here and it's one other players enjoy playing in.
MICHAEL GIBBONS: A quick word on your own game, Lee, how is it shaping?
LEE WESTWOOD: Yeah, it's pretty good. I finished third a few weeks ago at the British Masters. Played okay last week, showed some good signs there. Hitting the ball very nicely, consistently. It's nice to see the putts starting to go in more regularly, as well, so the whole game is coming into shape.
This is a big end to the season. This is a big tournament, Dubai is obviously a very big tournament and then myself and Danny are representing England in the World Cup down in Australia, last tournament of the year for me, so looking forward to that. And then obviously start again next year, my 24th season on Tour. We wore working out how many miles I've walked; but two more years before I've walked around the world, so looking forward to the future.
MICHAEL GIBBONS: You've had just an unbelievable year, if you can talk about your year so far and looking forward to this Final Series and the Turkish Airlines Open.
DANNY WILLETT: Yeah, it has been fantastic. The last couple months have been poor to be honest in a lot of aspects, but no, you can't really look too much on that. We're trying to move forward, and starting here with a great event down in Turkey. I think this is my third time at The Turkish Open, and a couple of really nice resorts the last couple years. We've been at the Maxx Royal on the other side of Antalya, and lovely to be here in the Regnum, fantastic hotel.
And the golf course, got to play ten holes yesterday, which was beautiful. You come here and 20-odd degrees, blue skies, it's just a beautiful place to come and play golf. I think we're set for a really good week.
Q. Given the fact that you so narrowly missed out on becoming the No. 1 player of Europe last year, how strong is the motivation this year, and how important is this tournament going to be considering that a couple of your nearest rivals are not here?
DANNY WILLETT: Yeah, last year obviously missed out to Rory. He played great in Dubai, the final one. I think I had to just beat him and it would have been mine, but he finished first and I finished fourth. We had a great year last year.
And I think this year, yeah, we've been leading it for a long, long time. Unfortunately last week, I had probably my worst event on Tour for the years I've been on, and Henrik finished second, so jumped us.
Yeah, for me, this is a pretty big week. Henrik is not here. He was never scheduled to play anyway. So yeah, gives me a chance to either close that gap, or hopefully leapfrog again and make it really interesting coming down to the last two.
Q. You're scheduled to play all three. How are you physically? Are you worried at all about all the travel you're going to have to do in the next three events?
DANNY WILLETT: Yeah, there's a lot of travel. Yeah, probably my mistake not taking my physio last week and stuff. And then this week, he's here. He's going to come to the first half of next week and then to Dubai.
Yeah, he's going to come a little bit more and we're going to try to, it's a lot of golf for anyone. But it was one of them where if you've got the chance to win, obviously Westy's been in the situation where he's done it and he knows how difficult it is to do it. It shows how well you've played through the course of the season.
But these last four events are quite pivotal. It's a lot of travel, but we kind of feel like we've got to play every single one and give ourselves the best chance of doing it.
It's something that not many guys have been able to do. We're classed as Europeans No. 1 with The Race to Dubai, and yeah it would be nice this year to go one better than last year.
We're doing all we can. The game is average; been average for a couple of months, so we're working hard and we're trying to do the right things. Unfortunately you have highs and lows in golf, and you know, the last couple ones have been a bit of a low. Before that was a massive high. You just keep working hard, and if you do that, then it's only around the corner. You know how strange this game is. All of a sudden you can come back out the other side and you can have a good little spell again.
Q. What do you make of hitting off the top of a villa for your tee shot, off a roof?
LEE WESTWOOD: Yeah, intentionally, as well, and sober (laughter). It's a new one, isn't it. I'm not great with heights. Having said that, I've hit off the balcony of a hotel in Dubai before and a few other places and been quite successful. So it's fairly interesting.
We flew drones off it last night, so it gave us a little bit of a feel of how it's going to play. It looks as quite a tough tee shot.
DANNY WILLETT: From down below.
LEE WESTWOOD: A lot easier from the other side of the swimming pool. My caddie actually gave me the yardage to carry the pool last night. It's like 26 yards past the pool, past the deep end. It's not often you get a yardage like that. But no, it's very different. I think it's quite good fun.
I'm not sure I'd want to be staying in that villa this week with 78 golfers jumping around on the roof hitting golf balls (laughing).
Q. You may have noticed, or you may have heard, that there are a few late withdrawals from this event.
LEE WESTWOOD: Yeah.
Q. Cited some security fears. Did you have any fears at all?
LEE WESTWOOD: Not at all. I played with Keith Pelley in the Pro-Am last week in China and we were discussing it, and he asked me my opinion and I said, I've got no fears about it at all. I've never seen -- I think the world we live in right now, anything can happen anywhere. I think Turkey is no different to anywhere else.
I think everybody, you know, has to be very vigilant about these things but I certainly have no security worries about coming to Turkey. I've always found the people very welcoming and it's a -- well, you're here, so you obviously aren't going to do it if you have fears and I'm no different to you. I value my life as much as you probably value yours. I'm here looking forward to playing golf this week and in a big tournament and we're focusing on that and nothing else really is phasing me too much. I don't feel uncomfortable. Looking forward to the week ahead.
Q. Were you disappointed by the pull-outs?
LEE WESTWOOD: Yeah, a little bit. Obviously the most high-profile pull-out was probably Rory's, and Rory brings an awful lot to a golf tournament. He's a former world No. 1 and defending the Money List and he's pretty much taken himself out of that by not playing this week.
You know, on his day, I like watching Rory play golf more than anybody else, really, the way he plays the game. Just how naturally good he is, and he's been like that since he was 13, 14 years of age when I first played with him at the Forest of Arden. He's great to watch. It's a shame he's not here this week, but I guess he didn't feel the way I feel about the place and the security of it all.
Q. Can I ask both of you your thoughts on the 10th hole, which is being played as a par 4 this year? Would you rather have it as a par 5 or a par 4?
LEE WESTWOOD: I'm getting old. I'd rather have it as a par 5, for sure.
DANNY WILLETT: I'm getting old. I'd rather have it a par 5.
Yeah, we played it -- I played the 10th hole yesterday off the back tees with the wind yesterday. It was probably a little bit too long and a little bit too penal. Just purely for the fact that you'll be coming in with a 4-iron over the lake to a green that's actually not that deep and so then we played it off the tee forward, as well, which wasn't too bad. We hit driver, 8-iron in, which wasn't bad at all. But the back tee is putting us 50 yards further back.
You know, there's tough par 4s everywhere we go and play in the world and I don't think that's an issue. You just hope that the course setup is clever with wind direction and this, that and the other. Obviously that can switch and turn around.
But yeah, it's one of them holes that are pivotal through the week; that they are going to play really tough and obviously that's what it is. We play par 4s very regularly over 500 yards all around the world. If that's what they want to do, then that's fine. It's a very, very good hole.
The only problem is when a hole is designed for a par 5, usually the green is designed for a wedge, not for a long- to mid-iron. That would be the only slight difficulty there is if you're coming into that green with, like I said, with a 5-iron or 4-iron. Then yeah, it will play pretty tough, especially since you have the water down the left and if you hit it in the right rough, then try and control spin out of that with the same.
But no, we play plenty of tough par 4s around the world, and so I think the guys are just going to play as they see fit. I think the scoring potentially is going to be very low, so there's no harm in throwing a very tough hole in there.
LEE WESTWOOD: I could sit here and lie and say all sorts of things, but I haven't even played it yet (laughing).
Q. You might have answered that. Lee, you've played in all the events at the Maxx Royal, how different is this course to the Maxx Royal in terms of the challenge?
LEE WESTWOOD: That's going to be a tough one to answer, isn't it, because I haven't played the golf course yet (laughing).
LEE WESTWOOD: Danny?
DANNY WILLETT: It's a bit different. I'm not sure how the full yardages measure up, but it certainly plays a little bit shorter, I'd say. Some great par 3s around this golf course. I think that's where you're going to see a few guys make mistakes or play them well.
But both golf courses are fantastic down here. Very heavily tree-lined but give you enough room between the trees and take shots. The wind can obviously swirl and bounce off the trees which makes it pretty difficult.
I think this golf course have got a few more run-offs to certain areas which you can't go in. But I think you'll probably end up seeing similar-ish kind of scoring. From what we saw yesterday, the greens are fantastic. So you get the guys hitting a lot of wedges into greens, and the greens are rolling as good as they are; you're probably going to see some low scores out there.
So going back to the question, I think that there's probably no harm in chucking a few tough par 4s in there if they have the opportunity to move the tees around. But I think it's going to be a great week. The crowds and the fans who are going to come are going to see a lot of birdies I think, and they are going to see some great golfers playing some great golf hopefully.
Q. Can I ask you something that you have done then this week, which is the flavour of ice creme that you are recommending?
LEE WESTWOOD: Well, to be honest, I'm on a diet, so I shouldn't really be eating it. But if I was to have eaten any, I would have said the chocolate with the chocolate chip is worth trying.
Q. When you do eat an ice creme, even at this age, and given the physical fitness regime that you follow, do you really count that, I'm adding this much calories so I have to spend that much more time in the gym?
LEE WESTWOOD: Yeah, I try and watch my diet. Like I said, I'm on a bit of a fitness kick and a bit of a diet at the moment. I was in the gym this morning. Danny was in the gym, as well. It was very busy in there. There were people that were not normally in the gym in this morning. Slightly worried about that.
When you get to my age, you've got to stay on top of that. It's all part of the modern professional game now, staying in shape and being strong and healthy and flexible, and for the longevity of the career, as well. I don't want this to end any time soon, so I've got to keep fit to keep on playing.
Q. I think you said your game had been average for a couple months. Is there any kind of sense of still a Masters effect there where that status and hype and whatever else is a wee bit difficult for you to deal with, or is it an unconnected run of form that could happen to you at any point?
DANNY WILLETT: I think it's a tricky one. Lee will know; when you've played great, when you've won as many tournaments as Lee has, unfortunately golf is a strange game and you're trying to get better and better.
For me, April has obviously been a pretty magical month, but you still try and push your game forward and push your game on. At times that leads to taking a few steps backwards in trying to change things that you're going, and unfortunately, yeah, it's just taken a bit of a stale run. It's happened at a really bad time of year.
But you know, again, the focus isn't on the short-term goal. It's a long-term goal, and you've got to start making changes eventually and doing something different if you want to get better. Everyone's getting better every week, and you know, just because I won in April, is it doesn't mean that that's going to continue forever. You've got to make sure that you keep on top of things and make sure that you keep trying to get better, and like I said, I just at the minute, it's just a little bit stale.
But we're working incredibly hard in the gym, off the golf course, doing everything right and practicing hard. But yeah, it's just not quite going the way that I would have envisioned it going these last couple of months.
Q. Could you kind of just outline what you're working on, and is it possible that you may have not been working on exactly what you'd need to do to make the changes?
DANNY WILLETT: No. I'm pretty sure that I work with two of the best coaches in the world in Mike and Pete and I've got a very good team around me and we're trying to do everything correct, and I'm pretty sure that everything we're doing is correct.
It's just tough when you're trying to play golf and make swing changes at the same time. It's always difficult. You always refer back to type, and especially when you get under pressure, if you've not quite hit enough balls and done quite enough work, then unfortunately the confidence isn't there to hit the shots you want to hit and then you hit a couple of bad ones and it gets a bit worse.
The real work comes I guess when the season finishes. There was a few changes that we were making and that we had to make again with the back just to make sure that that stays healthy and fit and trying to always make sure that my swing kind of moves around that to keep as injury-free as possible and that's what we're trying to do.
You know, like I said, unfortunately it's just not quite bedded in just yet, but we'll continue to work hard and hopefully we can see a few results soon.
Q. Just on some comments Rory McIlroy made on a podcast in the States yesterday about Ryder Cup and having to be a European Tour Member. Do you think European Tour Ryder Cup players should be a Member of The European Tour to be eligible for the team?
LEE WESTWOOD: Is that me? Both?
I think at the end of the day, you want the best possible European players teeing it up in The Ryder Cup. Does that answer your question?
Q. So you don't believe that you have to be a European Tour Member?
LEE WESTWOOD: I can see the reason why they want you to be a European Tour Member, but I think it's unfortunate when you have clearly world-class/Ryder Cup experienced players missing out because they have chosen to, for one reason or that, live in America or play golf solely in America. I can always sympathise with them because I don't see why that personal decision should affect whether you can play in The Ryder Cup or not.
At the end of the day, you're still European and you still have the passion to play for Europe and represent them. Where you play, really, if you prove that you're world-class on, say, the PGA TOUR and not The European Tour, why should that have any bearing on whether you can play or not. Does that answer it? (Laughing).
MICHAEL GIBBONS: I think we're all done. Gentlemen, thank you very much.
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