Turkey is seeking to become a regional and even global power, through diplomatic and commercial ambitions focused on the Middle East and beyond. Now another of the country’s ambitions is coming into view: to become a golfing power.

This week, Ahmet Agaoglu, head of the Turkish Golfing Federation, announced plans to host Turkey’s first big time golfing tournament, in the coastal resort town of Antalya and featuring big names including Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy. Prize money for the October 9-12 event, sponsored by Turkish Airlines, will top $5m, with $1.75m for the winner.

Nor is golf the only sport to be heading Turkey’s way as the country’s wealth and self confidence swell. (GDP growth topped more than 8 per cent in 2010 and 2011, although the economy has since slowed from such unsustainable rates.)

The WTA Championship, the annual end to

the women’s tennis tour, moved to Istanbul last year, sponsored by BNP Paribas, and its Turkish subsidiary TEB. This year’s event will take place just a couple of weeks after Woods et al tee off, and the tournament will also be held in Turkey in 2013.


But Turkey has far bigger ambitions to put itself on the sporting map. It was the first country to set out its stall to host the UEFA 2020 Euro championship, after having been pipped at the post by France for the 2016 contest. Football is an abiding passion for Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Turkey’s prime minister, Fenerbahce fan and former semi-professional player.

All the same, Turkey’s footballing ambitions are something of a backup plan. IOC rules say that no country can hold another big sport event as well as the Olympics in any single year and Istanbul, together with Tokyo and Madrid, is a candidate to host the 2020 Olympic games.

By 2020, interestingly enough, golf is due to be reinstated as an Olympic sport. Perhaps Tiger Woods can come again?

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