Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 20 September 2014

Biting Back: Turkey time for Rory McIlroy

Telegraph Sport: where the debate starts

ANTALYA, TURKEY - OCTOBER 09: Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland teaches in a clinic for youngsters after day one of the Turkish Airlines World Golf Final at Antalya GC on October 9, 2012 in Antalya, Turkey. (Photo by Warren Little/Getty Images)

Rory McIlroy does not play golf, primarily, to make money. He makes money because he plays golf, exceptionally well.

Granted, Rory will never have to worry about where the next Lira is coming from.

So, you may wonder, what’s he doing on the latest addition to golf’s end of season wheelbarrow tour, so-called for the vast amounts top players can amass from seemingly unimportant invitational tournaments, like this week’s World Golf Final on Turkey’s golfing Riviera?

The answer lies in a much bigger picture... a showcase for golf and the host nation that Rory and his big-name fellow competitors couldn’t afford not to be part of. It is an investment in shaping the future, all round.

Golf is big business in Turkey. The 14 courses that stretch along the cobalt coastline around Antalya bring in more than £20m a year to the local economy. The target is to hit £100m annually. The £5.5m it is costing sponsors Turkish Airlines (on top of their newly purchased Manchester United partnership) is a stake in the country’s ambition to make the leap to First World power.

Courting the European Union on one front... flexing muscles on another at the Syrian border — that’s a high-risk way of showing you mean business.

A sporting event projecting dreamy images of sun, sea and palm trees is a much cheaper and safer avenue to hearts and minds.

Today it is golf, tomorrow the Olympics, for which Turkey is bidding in 2020. Rory may not have decided which of his dual nations he will represent at those Games but he is having a big say in where he will tee-off in his quest for real gold.

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