President, Turkish Golf Federation
“Golf has made great strides in Turkey of late in the sense both of tourism and of sport. With 15 golf courses and 52 five-star hotels on its 15-kilometer coastal strip, Belek currently has the distinction of being the single most compact golf venue in the world. Having hosted a number of international tournaments already, Belek this time is going to welcome world golf’s top eight players. The tournament, which will be followed by around 400 million people, is at the same time the best gauge of how far our country has come in terms of sports events.
We can say as of now that this tournament, which is going to continue for the next three years with an increase in the number of participating players and in the size of the monetary award, is going to occupy a special place in world professional golf.”
If you’re only remotely interested in golf, or even have no interest whatsoever, you will have heard this name somewhere or other. Considered a living golf legend, Woods either holds or shares the record for the lowest score in the world’s four major tournaments.
One of the youngest names in the tournament, Charl Schwartzel is South African. Becoming a professional golfer at the age of 18, Schwartzel’s highest position up to now is sixth place in the world ranking. This golfer, who has competed in the PGA, the European Tour and the Sunshine Tour, was the 2011 Masters champion.
The American Hunter Mahan started playing golf professionally in 2006 and made a meteoric rise. Winning his first championship in 2007 just a year after he went professional, Mahan rose rapidly in the world ranking.
A South African-born English golfer, Justin Rose went professional at the age of 17. He succeeded this year in by-passing Woods and another living golf legend like Bubba Watson in the WGC-Cadillac Championship, one of the world’s most prestigious tournaments.
Starting golf at the age of 13, Lee Westwood became youth champion of his region just two years after he started learning to play. Winning his first amateur championship in 1990, Westwood has played professional golf since 1993.
Winner of this year’s PGA Tour The Players Championship, held in May, Matt Kuchar’s greatest success to date was his rise to fifth in the world ranking. Entering the top ten 30 times in the tournaments he played in between 2009 and 2012, Kuchar is the golfer who collected the most prize money from the PGA Tour in 2010.
Rorry McIlroy of Northern Ireland is the youngest player in the tournament. The 1989-born golfer was briefly in fifth place in the world ranking. Among those playing in the tournament, he is perhaps the golfer who has been intimate with the sport for the longest time despite his young age. McIlroy’s father introduced him to golf when he was only 18 months old.
Another young golfer in the tournament is the American Webb Simpson, this year’s US Open champion. Walker Cup and Palmer Cup champion in 2007 when he was an amateur, this golfer was also a member of the American team.