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 back in 1999. The tournament has a reputation for producing low scoring and quality winners – Westwood, Els, Donald, Karlsson and 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 2010 Ryder Cup at Celtic Manor in Wales are up for grabs.
“Everyone starts from scratch this week in Switzerland and there is a great opportunity for every European-born member of our Tour to make the side.” Said European captain Colin Montgomerie. “I wish everybody every success in their attempts to make it.”
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 Rory McIlroy had the chance to win his first European Tour event, needing just a par at the closing hole to finish one clear of Jean-Francois Lucquin. But, from the perfect position, McIlroy hit his approach long, chipped up then missed from three feet to drop back into a tie with the Frenchman. Lucquin went on to win the tournament at the second extra hole.
Both players will be back in the field this week but they’ll face competition from a strong field that includes Lee Westwood, Miguel Angel Jimenez, Graeme McDowell and Oliver Wilson.
Venue: Crans-sur-Sierre, Switzerland
Date: September 3-6
Course stats: par 71, 6,822 yards
Purse: €2,000,000 Winner: €333,330
Defending Champion: Jean-Francois Lucquin (-13)
Thursday 3 – Live on Sky Sports 1 from 10.30am
Friday 4 – Live on Sky Sports 1 from 10.30am
Saturday 5 – Live on Sky Sports Xtra from 12.00pm
Sunday 6 – Live on Sky Sports 3 from 12pm
Rory McIlroy – He should have won here last year and he now has a victory under his belt. He’ll be out to make amends for his mini-collapse in 2008.
Miguel Angel Jimenez – The Spaniard was tied third here last season and he’ll be looking for the perfect start in his campaign to secure a Ryder Cup place.
Gary Orr – He was also tied third in this event in 2008 and he finished strongly at Gleneagles last week. He’ll look to continue that form at a venue he clearly enjoys.
Key hole: 15th. A straight par 5 measuring just 519 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.
Betting: Omega European Masters betting guide