Pre-event publicity was inevitably attracted by a US celebrity with a ‘Major Double’ pedigree…but the top prize was well earned by three scintillating rounds from yet another European playing some of the best golf of his life.
John Daly’s appearance in Antalya was without doubt a significant PR coup by the organisers. His involvement helped the annual international pro-am to continue its upwardly mobile 10-year journey ever deeper into the esteem of the Turkish golfing and business community.
But when it came to the collecting of birdies and eagles to supplement a seemingly unending supply of pars, not to mention the near eradication of bogeys, Scotland’s Raymond Russell was by a clear margin the golfing revelation of the 2010 Beko Classic.
With rounds of 69-61-65 for a 54-hole total of 19 under par, Russell celebrated the recent recovery of his European Tour credentials by leaving the Beko’s strongest ever field in his slipstream and his nearest challengers Carl Suneson and Jamie Little four strokes adrift.
While Daly did his job to complete satisfaction, scoring five under par and entertaining the teams and spectators to a display of his windmill-like swing – the clubhead travels from ground zero to almost touching his rear end and back – his scorecards didn’t compare with many of those recorded by many from this side of the pond.
Russell’s eleven-under par on the less demanding Pasha course, sandwiched between a two-under and a six-under on the PGA-branded Sultan, may well have seen off any celebrity guest that Beko could have conjured from anywhere in the world of golf.
The warning light to the rest of the field was flashing brightly when the 38-year-old arrived. He had recently clawed his way up the Challenge Tour rankings to regain his European Tour Card after four years out, and was clearly in the mood to put the clock back to earlier achievements including a fourth in The Open Championship.
A niggling shoulder injury, which forced him out of the 2006 Dutch Open, led to surgery and kept him on the sidelines for almost a year. In that time, the 1996 Cannes Open winner had dropped down the divisions but, having been forced to start again from scratch on a variety of circuits, the Scot’s drive to return to the top has been rewarded.
“I’m very proud of myself for what I’ve done,” said Russell. “Yes, I’ve had a tough spell but that’s part of the game. I love what I do.” Equally, the Beko Classic is glad to have him on its Roll of Honour.