Lowdown:
The European Tour heads to the Swiss Alps this week for the Omega European Masters at Crans-sur-Sierre. A strong field has assembled as Europe’s best begin their quest to secure a place in the Ryder Cup team for 2012.
High in the Swiss Alps, Crans-sur-Sierre has, perhaps, the most spectacular backdrop of any course on the European Tour. The layout dates from 1908, though it was re-designed in the late 1920s then altered by Seve Ballesteros back in 1999. The tournament has a reputation for producing low scoring and quality winners – Robert Karlsson, Ernie Els, Luke Donald and Sergio Garcia have all won here in the last 10 years.
This season, there’s an added element of excitement at Crans as it’s the first tournament where points towards automatic qualification for the 2012 Ryder Cup at Medinah Country Club, Chicago are up for grabs.
“You only have to look at how strong the field is this week to see how important the tournament is to the players,” said European team captain Jose Maria Olazabal. “I’m excited that the qualification period is starting and it will be interesting to see how the players perform and how it develops over the next year.”
Rory McIlroy, Martin Kaymer, Lee Westwood and Darren Clarke are all in the field this week.
In 1971 Baldovino Dassu made history at Crans-sur-Sierre when he became the first player to shoot 60 on the European Tour. Jamie Spence managed the same score in the final round in 1992. He clawed back a 10 shot deficit and went on to win the title in a play-off against Anders Forsbrand.
Last year Spain’s Miguel Angel Jimenez, making his 22nd successive appearance at Crans-sur-Sierre, finally got his hands on the trophy. He finished three ahead of Edoardo Molinari and collected his 18th European Tour title.

Venue: Crans-sur-Sierre, Crans Montana, Switzerland
Date: Sep 1-4
Course stats: par 71, 6,822 yards
Purse: €2,000,000
Defending Champion: Miguel Angel Jimenez (-21)

TV Coverage:
Thursday 1 – Live on Sky Sports 1 from 10.30am
Friday 2 – Live on Sky Sports 1 from 10.30am
Saturday 3 – Live on Sky Sports 4 from 12pm
Sunday 4 – Live on Sky Sports 3 from 12pm

Player Watch:
Rory McIlroy – The US Open champion will be looking for a good showing in an event he should have won before. In 2008 he missed a short putt on the 18th green to win the tournament outright before going on to lose a playoff against Jean-Francois Lucquin.

Pablo Larrazabal – The BWM International Open champion narrowly missed out last week at Gleneagles, losing in the five-way playoff. He doesn’t have a good record in this tournament but he’s a streaky player and will look to carry on his good form this week.

Lee Westwood – A former winner of this tournament, the course here suits Westwood’s precision game. He continues to produce consistently good results and comes into this event on the back of top-10 finishes in both the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational and the USPGA Championship.

Key hole:
15th. A straight par-5 measuring just 516 yards. It’s reachable in two for all but the shortest hitters so five here will feel like a bogey.

Skills required:
Precision iron play. Crans-sur-Sierre has relatively small greens but if you find the putting surfaces birdies abound.

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