Even if last week saw two more unlikely winners, not to mention three more near-misses to add to this season’s growing tally for in the golf betting, at least the European Tour leaderboard emphasised the value of studying the formbook. Clear trends had emerged over several years of course form at Gleneagles, and once again the top 20 was full of players who passed the ‘horses for courses’ test. As Crans-sur-Sierre has been hosting this fixture for decades, I’m hoping to find some similar clues this week.
Crans isn’t really similar to any other course seen on the main tours. It has a mixture of reachable par 5s, driveable par 4s and a tough finish, with nearly all the scoring coming on those ‘easy’ holes. Arguably the most pivotal characteristic is that the greens are like upturned saucers, placing a high premium on scrambling skills. Like all courses at altitude, the ball travels further through the air. Given such distinct features, previous course knowledge and form are particularly important.
Its also generally proved a decent event for gambling purposes over the years; or at least it did until the last two surprise winners. The previous eight renewals had produced three winning favourites, plus two more at less than 20/1. Even the biggest-priced champion in that period, Robert Karlsson at 80/1, was a multiple winner already and went on to become world class.
Another potential aid for our cause is the fact that several otherwise strong contenders have never looked like thriving at Crans. Consider Anders Hansen’s best of 30th in eight visits for instance, or Peter Hanson’s best from four of 40th. Raphael Jacquelin won on the course when it hosted a Challenge Tour event in the mid-90s, but has never bettered 10th in ten tries since. Similarly grim figures also apply to consistent characters like Ignacio Garrido or David Lynn. Emerging players such as Charl Schwartzel and Andres Romero have yet to get in a blow here either.