Turkey set for return of Woods
World No1 star of strokeplay event
TIGER WOODS features in a strokeplay event for the first time in six weeks at the Turkish Airlines Open starting on Thursday and will herald his return by taking part in a spectacular Bosphorus Bridge photoshoot.
The world No1 is due to arrive in Istanbul by helicopter today before becoming the first golfer to hit balls from East to West on the iconic bridge that separates the continents of Europe and Asia.
Woods will then travel to Antalya to take on Europe's finest in the $7million tournament at the Montgomerie Maxx Royal course.
The 14-time major winner also played in last year's invitational eight-man World Golf Final in Turkey, but this season marks the first time the country has hosted an official European Tour event.
"I had a great time during my first visit to Turkey ... and I'm looking forward to playing there once again," Woods said.
He has not played a strokeplay competition since finishing tied for 22nd place at the Tour Championship in Atlanta in September, the final event of the US PGA Tour's money-spinning FedExCup series. Among the 37-year-old American's title rivals this week will be US Open champion and World Golf Final winner Justin Rose.
"It's going to be fun to play in Turkey again," said the 33-year-old Briton. "It's great for Turkey to have an event in the Final Series."
This week's tournament is the penultimate event in the inaugural Final Series, the European Tour's new FedExCup equivalent.
Rose is third in the Race To Dubai money list on €1.87m, behind Graeme McDowell (€2.05m) and FedExCup winner Henrik Stenson (€2.2m) with just the Turkish Open and DP World Tour Championship in Dubai to come.
Ian Poulter, fourth on the list with earnings of €1.66m, will look to go one better in Antalya than his second-place finish to American Dustin Johnson in last week's WGC-Champions Tournament in Shanghai.
Former world number one Lee Westwood also features in the 78-man line-up this week, but Rory McIlroy, Luke Donald and Sergio Garcia are absentees.
First prize is worth a whopping €848,930.